The more and more you think of the Rangers offseason and pending contract offers, the more maddening it gets.
If you do this, then this will happen. Or, if you do that, that will happen. A variety of factors will need to be taken into account.
Breaking it all down, if you can, is enough to make you throw up your hands and waive the white flag. All the variables facing newly-appointed general manager Jeff Gorton when dealing with contracts seems like its too much for an ordinary man to bear.
Thankfully Gorton is not an ordinary man and has “some” experience in these matters.
The dilemma is what to do on defense. Who to keep and who to offer in “trade bait”. Specifically, the focus is on Kevin Klein and his value in all this madness that is called the salary cap era.
Klein has been a steady rock on the Rangers defensive corps, since he came over in trade with the Nashville Predators a couple of seasons ago. He’s helped solidify the physical toughness the Rangers have needed on the back end and given Alain Vigneault that right-handed shot he’s sought after.
New York Rangers
Last season, he perhaps had his greatest offensive season in the NHL by setting career high’s in goals (9), assists (17), and points (26). His points ranked him second to Ryan McDonagh’s 33, and ranked first for Rangers defensemen in the +/- category with +24. A statistic that puts him one ahead of the team’s captain.
And, that was in 65 games played. Unfortunately, last season for Klein was abbreviated due to an arm injury, while blocking a shot against the Capitals Alex Ovechkin in March.
And yes, his postseason numbers and performance were not memorable by any means. Yet, he was coming back from a injury, which some do not take into consideration when criticizing.
Klein’s current contract, which sees his $2.9 million count against the Rangers salary cap, expires in 2018. For a player of his abilities, that is a bargain.
Granted, he has not historically been an offensive threat, and last season’s performance was what many called an “aberration”. But who is to say Klein could not replicate that same performance next season or the following seasons?
For his salary, you’re taking a low-risk, low-cost bargain.
May 22, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein (8) during the second period of game four of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Unfortunately, it may end up that Klein won’t have a chair when the music stops. Dan Girardi has a no-movement clause in effect for the next two seasons. Dan Boyle has one more year left with the Rangers, and doesn’t appear to have a team biting on him for his services (he is 38-years old, counts $4.5 million against the cap), preventing him from being moved.
Assuming prospects Brady Skjei and the resurgent Dylan McIlrath are able to put on a strong showing in training camp, Klein looks to be this year’s odd-man out. And, it would be a shame for a player that has been a rock throughout his stay with the Blueshirts.
All things point towards Klein being traded out of New York.
If we look towards next year, Keith Yandle goes UFA. If he puts up high offensive numbers as he did early in his career with the Arizona Coyotes and this past postseason with the Rangers, his could be seeking something north of $5.5 million at least. Then, you have a big piece in Chris Kreider to contend with.
With not offering a contract to Dan Boyle, that will free up cap space to dedicate.
But why not entertain the thought of trading Yandle. His return could be potentially be nice. Granted, according to hockey inside Darren Dreger (@darrendreger), the Rangers are not entertaining him being traded.
To avoid paying his pay raise with his UFA status (Rangers currently pay half of Yandle’s $5.3 million annual cap hit), why not deal him away?
Klein would be cap-friendly, along with prospects to come up from Hartford. This will allow more room for contract negotiations.
However, with the “win-now” mode from the organization, this may prevent anyone from looking at it this way.
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