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News broke yesterday that the NHL and the NHLPA had agreed to two amnesty buyouts before the 2013-2014 season. One buyout will be allowed before the start of this season –if it happens– with the second occurring before the start of the 2013-2014 campaign. The owners appear to be dead-set against a cap higher than $60 million for 2013-2014, so multiple teams will need to use both buyouts to get to that number.
The first buyout for the Rangers will have to be Wade Redden. The new CBA will not allow teams to bury bad contracts in the AHL, so Redden’s full $6.5 million cap hit will be on the books. This one is a no-brainer. Redden, much like Scott Gomez in Montreal, will be bought out. That’s the easy one to guess.
The Rangers may need to use that second buyout to stay under that $60 million cap for 2013-2014. Of the players currently signed, the organization will not be looking to buyout either of their goaltenders, Rick Nash, Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, Ryan Callahan, Chris Kreider, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, or Stu Bickel. These guys are either cheap (Bickel), part of a group that the Rangers need to win (everyone else), or both (Girardi).
That leaves Taylor Pyatt ($1.55 million), Mike Rupp ($1.5 million), Anton Stralman ($1.7 million), Arron Asham ($1 million), and Brian Boyle ($1.7 million) as the borderline players. It’s extremely unlikely that Boyle gets bought out, as he is one of the top defensive centers for the Rangers, and he’s also pretty solid on face offs.
Of the remaining four players, there are three giant question marks in Pyatt, Asham, and Stralman. Pyatt and Asham have never played for the Rangers, and while they come with decent pedigree, some players just don’t mesh well with others. Their performances on the ice will dictate if they stay or go. The same goes for Stralman, but he’s less of a question mark considering his play last year. The question with him is whether or not he can repeat it.
The only player that really jumps out is Rupp. I like Rupp, we are pretty big Rupp fans here. Teams need players like him. He’s a leader and someone who the coaching staff leans on heavily in the locker room. On the ice, he’s not the best, but he does what is needed to be done. The issue is that he makes $1.5 million to play about 5-7 minutes per game.
With a decreasing cap, the organization may not be able to afford to pay Rupp $1.5 million for the 2013-2014 season. In terms of dollars per ice time, Pyatt makes as much as Rupp and will be expected to be on the ice for almost double the minutes. It’s not cost-effective for the Rangers to keep a $1.5 million, fourth line winger who will play five minutes a game.
There are a lot of “ifs” right now regarding that second buyout. If it comes down to Rupp, then it’s not a move the club will want to make, but the new CBA may force their hand.