Dan Girardi

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Oilers reportedly might spend Eberle savings on signing Russell

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Optimistic Edmonton Oilers fans who didn’t like the Jordan Eberle trade could at least rationalize the savings, as Ryan Strome comes at a $3.5 million salary-cap discount. Surely that money will be focused squarely on locking up the future – aka sorting things out with Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid – right?

After all, that was the spin from GM Peter Chiarelli: moving Eberle for Strome was all about “long-term thinking.”

Well, about that …

TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that the Oilers are nearing a deal with defenseman Kris Russell that could carry approximately a $4 million cap hit over a four-year term. The dollar amount can change, but that would put the shot-blocking defenseman’s cost at around $16 million overall. (There are rumblings that it might be $18M with a no-movement clause.)

Now, before we criticize (er, discuss) the move, do note that McKenzie reports that it isn’t a done deal. If it happens, it might not be announced until Friday, anyway.

If it does go through, the move inspires comparisons to last summer. To refresh your memory, the Oilers made a polarizing (but money-saving) move by sending Taylor Hall to the Devils for Adam Larsson. Shortly after that trade, the Oilers essentially used those savings to sign Milan Lucic.

Results were … mixed, and Lucic’s contract seemingly stands as a barrier to accrue other assets.

Could the same thing happen here? Russell has his proponents, yet his possession stats indicate that his stature has been inflated, at times, around the NHL. One thing that’s undeniable is Russell’s age: he’s 30.

Will a 30-year-old defenseman fall apart during a four-year deal? Not necessarily, although his shot-blocking tendencies inspire some concern; just look at how Dan Girardi aged in New York.

Either way, it’s difficult to defend giving Russell about $4 million a year when you’re trying to sign Leon Draisaitl (RFA this summer) and Connor McDavid (RFA next summer, but eligible for an extension as early as July).

Recent rumblings don’t inspire a ton of confidence, either. For one thing, Chiarelli made a strange semi-challenge regarding Draisaitl and offer sheets.

There are also rumors about McDavid’s potential contract demands.

Again, the parameters of a Russell deal could change; the Oilers might not even bring him back at all. TSN’s Darren Dreger also notes that McDavid wouldn’t necessarily receive that big payday he’d possibly ask for.

Still, Oilers fans have experienced the worst-case scenario far more often than not in recent years, and these developments could inspire some doom and gloom … even if all three players are kept in the fold.

What now for Rangers after buying out Girardi?

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Now that they’ve bought him out, the New York Rangers won’t need to protect Dan Girardi in the expansion draft, and that could be a big deal for a team that needs to improve its blue line.

Girardi had a no-movement clause, which surely contributed to today’s announcement. Marc Staal also has a NMC, so he’ll still require protection. The Rangers will obviously protect Ryan McDonagh.

But after Staal and McDonagh, there’s no obvious candidate on the blue line to throw a wall around. Kevin Klein is reportedly pondering retirement. And no disrespect intended, but Nick Holden, Steven Kampfer, and Adam Clendening are hardly irreplaceable. (In case you’re wondering, Brady Skjei is exempt.)

Perhaps now the Rangers could be in on a player like Sami Vatanen. They could sure use a right shot on the power play.

Related: Devils, Bolts and Leafs could make play for Vatanen

Of course, the expectation all along has been that the Rangers will pursue Kevin Shattenkirk in free agency. Buying out Girardi would also clear cap space for that.

The forward group could see change as well. According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, Derek Stepan‘s name “is fairly prominent in trade chatter” at the moment.

Clearly, the Blueshirts aren’t done making moves.

Related: Changes needed for Rangers, but which ones to choose?

Dan Girardi to be bought out by Rangers

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The New York Rangers are buying out defenseman Dan Girardi.

Girardi, 33, had three years left on his contract. The buyout will be spread over six years, with a $2.6 million cap hit next season, a $3.6 million hit the following two, and a $1.1 million hit in the final three.

Girardi played 788 games for the Rangers, plus 122 more in the playoffs.

Alas, all those heavy minutes took their toll. Over his career, Girardi blocked 1,691 shots for the Rangers, plus 347 more in the playoffs.

“I poured my heart and soul into this team for the past 11 seasons and I enjoyed every minute of it,” Giradi wrote in a lengthy statement. “I want to acknowledge that the Rangers are a first class organization who have always treated our players in a first class fashion. … I also wanted to thank all of the Blueshirt faithful. You are one of the best and most passionate fan bases in the NHL. I appreciate your support over the years.”

Read more: What now for Rangers after buying out Girardi?

“I would like to thank Dan for everything he has given of himself to the Rangers over 11 seasons,” said GM Jeff Gorton.

“Dan’s contributions to the New York Rangers organization have been immeasurable,” added president Glen Sather.

Report: Rangers’ Klein considering retirement

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With four players over the age of 30 the New York Rangers’ defense is going to need a bit of an overhaul at some point in the very near future, and it might start in a rather unexpected way this summer.

According to a report from the New York Post, veteran defenseman Kevin Klein is considering retirement from the NHL and could look to continue his playing career in Europe next season.

He still has one year remaining on a contract that is set to pay him $2.9 million this season.

A veteran of 627 games in the NHL, Klein has spent the past three-and-a-half years as a member of the Rangers and played a significant role in their run to the 2014 Stanley Cup Final following a mid-season trade from the Nashville Predators. A back injury limited him to 60 games this past season. He then spent most of the playoffs as a healthy scratch, appearing in just a single game before the Rangers were eliminated by the Ottawa Senators in the second round.

If he retires the Rangers would gain nearly $3 million in cap space for next season, which they could certainly use as they attempt to rebuild their defense.

The Rangers’ defense has become a sore spot over the past two years due to their reliance on veterans (Dan Girardi, Marc Staal, Klein) that are starting to slow down and the lack of a true impact puck-moving presence anywhere on the blue line. As long as the defense is built in such a way it is going to put a ton of pressure on Henrik Lundqvist to be on top of his game for the team to have a chance to win. Even though he had another strong season, the 35-year-old Lundqvist did start to show some signs of slowing this season.

Reports: Hartnell, Ladd, Boychuk not asked to waive no-move clauses

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Monday was the deadline for NHL teams to ask players to waive no-movement clauses so they could be exposed to the NHL expansion draft on June 21. With that deadline looming we learned about a couple of players that have been asked to waive, including Ottawa Senators defenseman Dion Phaneuf (no word yet on his decision) and Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (he was asked in February, and agreed to waive it).

We also learned about a few players that were not asked to waive their no-move clauses and will have to be protected by their teams.

Among those are Columbus Blue Jackets forward Scott Hartnell (via the Columbus-Dispatch), and New York Islanders players Andrew Ladd and Johnny Boychuk (via Arthur Staple). Larry Brooks of the New York Post also reports that the Rangers did not ask defensemen Dan Girardi or Marc Staal to waive theirs.

The Blue Jackets and Islanders situations create some interesting scenarios.

When it comes to the Blue Jackets, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus-Dispatch digs into the possibility that Columbus and Vegas already have a deal in place. There has been speculation that Vegas might be willing to take on David Clarkson‘s contract if Columbus is willing to include a draft pick or a prospect. Elliotte Friedman mentioned this in his most recent 30 thoughts column.

There is also the possibility that Columbus could buy out the remaining years of Hartnell’s contract. He has two years remaining on his current deal that carries a salary cap hit of $4.75 million. His production has been declining in recent years and he is coming off of a 2016-17 season that saw him score 13 goals and add 24 assists in 78 games.

When it comes to the Islanders, they are in an interesting position because they seem almost certain to lose a very good defenseman over the next week. The Islanders will almost certainly want to protect Nick Leddy and Travis Hamonic, while Boychuk will now be required to be protected along with them. That could leave a player like Calvin de Haan or Ryan Pulock exposed, unless the Islanders decide to forego the seven forward, three defensemen option and instead choose to protect eight skaters (four forwards, four defensemen).