Apr 20, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Rangers left wingCarl Hagelin
(62) celebrates after scoring a goal against Pittsburgh Penguins goalieMarc-Andre Fleury
(29) during the first period in game three of the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Rangers have many key players hitting restricted free agency, including Carl Hagelin. Can the Rangers replace Hagelin if they lose him?
Eventually, all the large contracts are bound to catch up to the New York Rangers. Some players- good players, to be frank- are going to become cap casualties, and that can start as early as this summer depending on the direction management decides to go. One of the teams biggest free agents, Carl Hagelin, is rumored to be a cap-casualty this summer.
However, can the Rangers afford to lose Hagelin?
Make no mistake about it, Hagelin is an important part of this team. Hagelin, who will be entering his fifth season next year, is 26 years old and has been a top-nine forward for the Rangers since joining the team in the 2011-2012 season. He has never scored more than 20 goals or 40 points in a season. Hagelin’s current deal was a two-year bridge deal, a Rangers’ specialty, that paid him $2.25 million per year. Hagelin is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights, and the Swedish winger will likely be in the market for a significant raise over the summer.
The Rangers, who already have their backs up against the wall, will likely have to cut costs at some point over the next year or two if they want to be able to keep the majority of its roster in tact. The Rangers have key free agents to re-sign this summer and next. Some of those players- including Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes, Keith Yandle, J.T. Miller and Jesper Fast– are vital to the long-term success of this team.
So, if the Rangers were to part ways with Hagelin, would they be able to replace him in an affordable way?
New York Rangers
Well, if Fast continues to develop like he did this year, there is no question that he can take over Hagelin’s role. Fast relatively possesses all of Hagelin’s skills. Both players are excellent skaters, with Hagelin owning an edge in that department. However, Fast can also skate very well, and, just like Hagelin, can chip in offensively when needed. Both players also excel on the penalty kill, where they use their speed and exceptional hockey-IQ to get in lanes, block shots, and occasionally chip in offensively while man down.
The Rangers also have other players in the pipeline- most notably Oscar Lindberg and Ryan Bourque– who can slide into Hagelin’s role and produce like him. Nevertheless, Fast is the best option to replace Hagelin’s role if he is moved this offseason.
It is tough to be both loyal and smart in the cap-era, something many teams are struggling with right now. As ESPN’S Katie Strang points out in her excellent article about the Los Angeles Kings, even the best in the league mess up their cap situations, specifically Mike Richards.
Lombardi thought Richards deserved loyalty. But he doesn’t expect everyone to understand that.”In a cap world, you can’t have any heart and soul,” he said. “I struggle with that.”
At some point, the Rangers are going to have to move a player of prominence, and, in some cases, a beloved player, in order to breathe easier under the cap. Although it would be tough to see Hagelin go, he might be the first of the cap-casualties. However, the Rangers have the resources to replace Hagelin and replace him with an affordable, productive player.
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