While the price would be hefty, the New York Rangers would benefit greatly, especially in the expansion draft, by buying out defenseman Dan Girardi and Marc Staal.
It’s no secret the Rangers big problem is defense. Part of that problem is Dan Girardi and Marc Staal, both who are locked in to long-term deals.
Girardi is due to make $5.5 million through 2020, and Staal $5.7 million through 2021. However, the benefit might outweigh the cost.
Cost of Buying Them Out
With that being said, the Rangers would love to rid themselves of these two contracts. The most ideal scenario for the Rangers would be trading Girardi or Staal.
However, it’s unlikely any team will take a chance on two declining defensemen with bad contracts. A buyout means the Rangers will be stuck with dead weight from their contracts.
If the Rangers buyout Girardi, the cap hit would be $1.25 million for the upcoming season. In the 2017-2018 season, the cap hit would be $2.75 million, and rise to as much as $3.75 million in the 2018-2019 season.
Thankfully, from 2020 to 2024, the cap hit would remain at $1.25 million each season.
If the Rangers were to buyout Staal, the cap hit would be $2.1 million for the upcoming season, and the 2018-2019 season. In the 2019-2020 season it would rise to $3.1 million, and reach as high as $3.9 million in the 2021-2022 season.
However, from 2021 to 2025, the cap hit would remain at $1.4 million.
Can the Rangers Afford to do it?
As mentioned before, the price is steep to buyout Giradi and Staal. However, the Rangers have many cheap options on the roster that would be an upgrade over what they’ve had in seasons past.
Ryan Graves played in Hartford last season, but seems primed for the NHL. Graves would carry a cap hit of $656,667 next season, which is essentially nothing.
Steve Kampfer, normally the teams seventh defenseman, proved serviceable when called upon. He just re-signed with the Rangers for two years, earning $650,000 each year. Again, chump change.
If the Rangers re-sign Adam Clendeing to another cheap contract, the Rangers will have enough depth on defense.
Brendan Smith was a perfect fit for the Rangers, and was a great deadline acquisition. He will command about $4 to $5 million, which the Rangers could easily afford with a buyout.
The buyout of Girardi and Staal would combine for a cap hit of $3.35 million this year. That is much cheaper than what it will be in years to come, so the team must take full advantage.
How it Helps the Expansion Draft
Not only would the Rangers dump two bad contracts, but they would also put themselves in a better position for the expansion draft.
The Rangers can only protect a certain amount of players, meaning they will likely lose a big contributor the team. Michael Grabner, Jesper Fast, and Oscar Lindberg all played a vital role in the teams success, and gave the Rangers the depth they needed to make a deep run in the playoffs.
As of now, the Rangers are forced to protect four defenseman; Ryan McDonagh, Brady Skjei, Marc Staal, and Dan Girardi.
By buying out both Girardi and Staal, the Rangers would gain a forward protection spot in the expansion draft because that means they don’t have to protect either defenseman. Giradi and Staal can’t be exposed because they both have no-move clauses.
While the Rangers would still have to expose two of those three forwards mentioned, it gives them more flexibility in who they want to protect.
We saw just how important the Rangers bottom six was in the playoffs, and they surely want to keep it intact.
Girardi and Staal were once staples of the Rangers blue line, and are still great leaders in the locker room. Despite this, both are shells of their former selves.
Girardi had a 44.2% corsi for, which is second to last on the team. Staal’s puck possession numbers were not far behind, as his corsi for was 46.8%.
Their presence will be missed, but the numbers signify a change is necessary. The Rangers need to buyout two contracts that were a mistake from the start.