Another Look at a Marc Staal Buyout

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Dave Rogers

Editor-in-Chief at Cleared for Contact
Writer, photographer and a lifelong New York Rangers hockey fan.
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With the conclusion of the Mika Zibanejad arbitration case ending with the Swedish center re-signing to a five year contract, Jeff Gorton’s busy summer has entered its final stage, attempting to land another center to fill the void left by the departure of Derek Stepan. Or maybe it is already done if no deal can be had to move some combination of the Rangers’ depth at wing and on defense to plug the last remaining hole in the roster. That situation is complicated by a lack of salary cap space, though, with the Blueshirts currently sitting at around $3M with one spot remaining to be filled. They might have one last option to help that situation, though.

According to CapFriendly:

Buyouts Outside of the Regular Period
Clubs whom have 1 or more arbitration filings may be permitted to perform a buyout outside of the regular window. This gives teams another opportunity to become cap compliant following an arbitration case.

As explained in Section 13(c)ii of the Standard Player Contract (SPC) [Exhibit 1 of the CBA], clubs are permitted to perform a buyout outside the regular period during the 48 hour period beginning on the third day after the final of a) settlement of the Club’s final arbitration case. b) receipt of the Club’s last arbitration award.

The third day after today would be Friday, July 28th and the buyout window would extend 48 hours past that, through the close of business on Sunday, July 30th. The Rangers should, as I pointed out almost three months ago now, use that opportunity to buyout the remaining four contracted years of 30-year old shell of his former self, Marc Staal.

That buyout would be ugly. Let’s get that out of the way right from the start. Again, according to CapFriendly, this would mean dead cap space for two years at $2.13M, then the following two at $3.13M and $3.93M before four more years at $1.43M. The Rangers are already paying for six more years to not have Dan Girardi on the roster for the next three, so the argument that basically says, “too much, too long” is understandable.

However, my take on buyouts has always been simple. Is the difference between the bought out player and the replacement worth the cost of the buyout and the replacement salary? As an example, let’s assume Dan Girardi is being replaced by Kevin Shattenkirk. Shattenkirk will earn $6.65M on average for the next four seasons, while Girardi’s buyout will cost an average of $2.73M over the same span. Is replacing Girardi with Shattenkirk worth $9.4M per year? I would say so, even as Shattenkirk alone isn’t worth that price. You have to factor in the removal of Girardi from the ice, whom had become a severe liability for the team.

Marc Staal is a similar kind of liability. His play has deteriorated and he is preventing the Rangers from elevating the young defensemen they now have in the system. With the top four spots being taken up by Shattenkirk, along with Ryan McDonagh, Brendan Smith and Brady Skjei, that leaves two spots on defense that at the moment will be filled by Staal and Nick Holden, while Anthony DeAngelo, Alexei Bereglazov, Neal Pionk and maybe even Sean Day fight to push one of the two veteran defenders into the 7th spot. Bereglazov is reported to have a KHL assignment clause, meaning he can choose to head back to the KHL if the Rangers don’t give him a spot at the NHL level. He would remain their property, but couldn’t be recalled throughout the year. The other three are waiver exempt, meaning they can be sent down to Hartford without worry that they would be claimed by another club. Perhaps that flexibility means Bereglazov, assuming a decent camp, makes the club and he and Holden platoon as 6/7 defenders.

A better option would be to buyout Staal and deal with the dead cap space, while replacing him with a much cheaper option who will perform at least as well on the ice, while also developing towards being a better long-term replacement under a cost-controlled contract. Three of the four young defenders mentioned above have two entry-level contract (ELC) years remaining on their contract, with Day having three years remaining. The highest of the ELC contracts is Bereglazov at $925K per year. Over the next two years, that would mean $3M tied up in his contract and Staal’s buyout combined, effectively freeing up the $2.7M difference between that total and Staal’s $5.7M per year.

The Rangers, with the same number of roster players this year, would then have a total of $5.7M in cap space to fill the hole at center. That provides much more flexibility. They would also have a preseason camp that has openings on defense for young players to compete. If two of them prove worthy, the team could gamble a bit on their retooling and make Holden their seventh (assuming he isn’t traded before then) while managing two rookies among their six defenders. Bereglazov, at 23, is the same age as Brady Skjei and has three full KHL seasons under his belt, so he isn’t as green as a typical rookie. Meanwhile, DeAngelo may only be 21, but he’s already played in half a season of NHL games last year.

The Rangers have done a very good job this offseason of changing the roster to try to fix holes. They may be calling it a “rebuild on the fly”, but if they can manage to find a third center to legitimately compete for a top-6 spot, they might find themselves with the same potent offensive abilities as last season but with a completely revamped defense which is much stronger than in the past few seasons. Buying out Staal would create the best opportunity to make that transition complete. The Rangers could be looking at this season, and presumably the next four to five years, as contenders again. First, though, they’ll have to rip the band-aid off to see if they can quickly heal the wounds that handing out bad contracts to declining players caused them to begin with.


All contract and salary cap information courtsey of CapFriendly.com

Discussion
  1. The Dude
    Why are we ok with plugging in garbage? I'm not getting how the sixth spot is this menial job, that now all of a sudden, anybody can do.. I hate to bring up the Mcllrath situation, where many were against just letting him play out his kinks as a sixth Dman, because you just can't do that..... Now though? Kampfer? Really? Everyone shit on the idea of trying Graves last year. But he's good to go now? If Bereglazov and Pionk aren't phenomenal, the Rangers are in deep shit without Staal. And that's two rookies on D. With AV as the coach.. Staals cap hit is obviously not equal to his play. We know that. But let's not act like Kampfer and a bunch of unproven rookies are a better alternative for the role. Staal could slot up when an injury happens.
    I'm all for dumping Staal. But only if they can fully rid themselves of that contract. If they buy him out, I'd rather fill that hole with something better. Not worse.
    I'm not seeing it guys.

    josh
    It's not going to be a 12min/night gig. You need someone that can play against top lines, kill penalties, play the last minute of a 1-goal game, etc. you got Shattenkirk and Deangelo (or any other rookie defender) that aren't going to be playing those minutes. Smith is taking a penalty per game, McDonagh will get a concussion and also hurt his shoulder... we are talking about important minutes.

    I was having similar thoughts, but down the road of if, by some twist of fate, we get into another conference final or better, overtimes and all, sometimes that last D-man is suddenly playing extremely important minutes. It all depends on what your ambitions are as a team. And while I will not be holding my breath with this 2017-8 edition, the team's last 10 years might suggest we have a chance of getting in the mix somehow. So, if good things happen. Any regular Dman can expect to find himself in important playoff situations, IMO.
    It's not going to be a 12min/night gig. You need someone that can play against top lines, kill penalties, play the last minute of a 1-goal game, etc. you got Shattenkirk and Deangelo (or any other rookie defender) that aren't going to be playing those minutes. Smith is taking a penalty per game, McDonagh will get a concussion and also hurt his shoulder... we are talking about important minutes.
    AmericanJesus
    We are essentially talking about a 12min per night gig as a 6th Dman. We have a number of options between Bereglazov, Pionk, Day (less likely), Graves and others.
    Quite frankly, if none of them work out, we can plug in Kampfer. That's the kind of cap expenditure you want in your 6th D spot, not $5.7m.

    Why are we ok with plugging in garbage? I'm not getting how the sixth spot is this menial job, that now all of a sudden, anybody can do.. I hate to bring up the Mcllrath situation, where many were against just letting him play out his kinks as a sixth Dman, because you just can't do that..... Now though? Kampfer? Really? Everyone shit on the idea of trying Graves last year. But he's good to go now? If Bereglazov and Pionk aren't phenomenal, the Rangers are in deep shit without Staal. And that's two rookies on D. With AV as the coach.. Staals cap hit is obviously not equal to his play. We know that. But let's not act like Kampfer and a bunch of unproven rookies are a better alternative for the role. Staal could slot up when an injury happens.
    I'm all for dumping Staal. But only if they can fully rid themselves of that contract. If they buy him out, I'd rather fill that hole with something better. Not worse.
    I'm not seeing it guys.
    We are essentially talking about a 12min per night gig as a 6th Dman. We have a number of options between Bereglazov, Pionk, Day (less likely), Graves and others.
    Quite frankly, if none of them work out, we can plug in Kampfer. That's the kind of cap expenditure you want in your 6th D spot, not $5.7m.
    Phil in Absentia
    Bereglazov is a pro. He has no NHL experience but he's been playing professionally against men in the KHL for the last three years. I can't imagine he's going to struggle too much to transition to NHL ice.

    Since when does playing in the KHL mean a player can play in the NHL? I hope you're right Phil, but I am reluctant to put faith in guys with zero North American games played to just step right in and play good.
    If the KHL was a realistic barometer, why not pluck some KHL first line center and call it a day?
    Costa
    I think the smarter move is wait till next offseason to buyout Staal

    Well the second buyout window starts in about 10 hours, Rangers will have until Sunday morning to announce a buyout of Staal
    (I think Gorts waits at least one more year, unless he can pull a Gomez)
    Nah. Stick him on the 3rd pair and see if he rebounds. Even just a small uptick in his play against lesser skilled players on other teams makes him a serviceable or potentially good 3rd pair defenseman. I'm not about to create a whole bunch of dead cap space and play roulette all season with 20-22 year old kids on the 3rd pairing. Not without giving Staal a shot with lesser expectations being asked of him.
    Bereglazov is a pro. He has no NHL experience but he's been playing professionally against men in the KHL for the last three years. I can't imagine he's going to struggle too much to transition to NHL ice.
    Staal obviously isn't a top pairing guy anymore. But if the Rangers deal Holden, who is playing on the bottom pair? Relying on absolutely unknowns to plug that spot isn't going to happen. Skjei, DeAngelo AND an unknown rookie are going to man the blue line?
    I don't think the pay off is worth it right now to do it. Unless they can ditch him in a trade and rid themselves of that contract completely, so they can maybe sign a stop gap D man, while also getting a center in some other way, it's a gamble. I don't even think Staal is so bad that they MUST buy him out right now anyway.
    Costa
    I think the smarter move is wait till next offseason to buyout Staal

    That really doesn't save much money, less than $100k per year. The only benefit is that it is one year shorter, so it would save you $1.433m against the cap in 2024-25, which isn't that big of a deal.
    NYR2711
    I wouldn't do it now, its going to cost too much in cap space. I would try to move him instead. If there is no takers, keep him and re-visit the buyout next season.

    It doesn't though because both can be replaced with ELC D men. IN the most expensive year of the potential dual buyout (2019-2020) it would cost $6.75m compared to having them in the lineup at $11.2m. That's a still a savings of $4.45m. And that's three years from now. We could have Sean Day in the lineup in 2019 at a cap hit under$775k. Zborovsky would potentially be under $750k. Bereglazov, Pionk, and DeAngelo will all be on their second contract and aren't arbitration eligible. Pick any 2 of those 5 guys to replace Staal and Girardi and its cheaper than the $4.45 we're saving.
    The only time the buyouts aren't saving you money is in the second half when the contract would have been over (3 extra years for Girardi @ $1.111 and 4 years for Staal @ $1.433). Those would over lap for two years 2021-22 and 2022-23 totaling a $2.544 loss in cap space in those two years, which is a pretty minor amount.
    NYR2711
    The other thing is buying out 2 guys isn't going to go well with other upcoming UFA's.

    A) It's a business. Players know teams have to make financial decisions and you have to preform on the ice to keep your job.
    B) How much does Girardi care that he got bought out? He still gets paid all the money the Rangers agreed to pay him, plus now he gets an extra $6m from the Lightning. Seems like he came out ahead in the deal...
    NYRanger11
    I don't really see the point in doing it now. If no one will take him (assuming we've asked him to waive and he accepts) at 50% I think it's better to wait until next year to buyout. We're not hurting for cap space and if we needed a little more Holden would still be available to move.

    At first, i also didn't see the sense in taking that additional hit — thought might as well keep as 6/th 7th. However as someone pointed out it is effectively dead $pace if he doesn't' raise his game -- and if he's keeping some very promising or significantly more capable d-man from developing or playing in that position, then it might be worth it.
    Just looking at Holden again, i was pleasantly reminded he was 11g 23a 34pts +13
    playoffs 2 2 4 -3, not so great
    But maybe there's a chance he improves his playoff game, he's certainly a useful point production engine for the regular season.
    I wouldn't do it now, its going to cost too much in cap space. I would try to move him instead. If there is no takers, keep him and re-visit the buyout next season. The other thing is buying out 2 guys isn't going to go well with other upcoming UFA's.
    booze and wingz
    Depends on where Nash goes, and unfortunately I don't know who would need a power forward good for ~45 points (jesus christ, i just looked this up and saw that he had 38 points this past season...eeesh), can kill penalties, and can create some space for your other guys on the ice.
    True, but I've seen so many times this summer that we're deep at the wing... Even without Nash, you're icing Zucc, Kreider, Miller, Buch, Vesey, Grabner in the top 9. That leaves Puempel, Fast, and whoever else to fill some holes on the fourth line and bottom 6 for when others need to slot up. Nash had 38 points last year in the top 6 with power play time. AND he costs 7.8m. It's not a bad idea to shop him, and if you find the right deal, you take it without looking back.
    Yeah. The idea would be to get back a center who can perform in our top 6/9. And if that's Bozak at 4.2m, Nash @50%, you have 2.7m to get a 13th forward (which gets you a damn good 13th forward, which likely puts Puempel as our 13th).
    No matter which way you cut the cookie, you're probably right. Staal on the third pair shouldn't be the end of the world though, right? I've no statistics to back up that statement, but time and time again I've read people say Staal, at this point in his career, is simply overpaid and misused, but can still be an asset on some team.
    Oh man, I need to smoke. I've thought more about this post than I did about the entire 8 hours of work I did today. idk how you guys do this shit.

    Good job bro, you done good!
    I don't really see the point in doing it now. If no one will take him (assuming we've asked him to waive and he accepts) at 50% I think it's better to wait until next year to buyout. We're not hurting for cap space and if we needed a little more Holden would still be available to move.

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