Tag: Chris Kreider

Rick Nash

New York Rangers ’15-16 Outlook


If you’re fascinated by athletes chasing big numbers in contract years, then the New York Rangers have been a go-to source of entertainment in recent years.

It’s difficult (if not nebulous) to try to quantify the impact of “greed is good,” but the Rangers are a hungry team with plenty of motivation in 2015-16. That’s what happens when you mortgage bits of your future via trades and employ some players chasing their next checks.

You never really know how wide open a Stanley Cup window might be.

Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault saw that in action in Vancouver, as the franchise declined from a huge contender to a bubble team in little time.

We’ve asked more than once if Henrik Lundqist’s elite days are numbered. It’s also worth noting that at 31, Rick Nash is in the middle of that age in which snipers see a slide in production.

The contract year situations aren’t of “uh oh, we better re-sign Henrik Lundqvist/our current captain/Derek Stepan” enormity, but they’re still intriguing.

On defense, you have veteran Keith Yandle and fading graybeard (literally) Dan Boyle. Antti Raanta also enters a pivotal year as an NHL backup.

The forward group might be the most intriguing.

Just look at the pending RFAs alone: Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes, J.T Miller and Emerson Etem. There’s some fascinating potential for all four of those players.

Even with Boyle’s $4.5 million cap hit set to expire, salary cap gymnastic may be required once again in the summer of 2016.


Paying players after strong years – and learning to let some of the less essential ones go – has been a pretty rewarding process for the Rangers, even if there’s been the occasional miss (see: Anton Stralman).

Report: Rangers haven’t submitted opening proposal to Stepan yet

Derek Stepan

It’s anyone’s guess if the New York Rangers will stop Derek Stepan from reaching salary arbitration, but as of this moment, it doesn’t sound like much is happening yet.

The New York Post’s Larry Brooks reports that “the parties haven’t quite even reached the preliminary stages of negotiating” as a potential arbitration hearing looms on July 27. Going further, the Rangers haven’t even offered an opening proposal for a long-term deal, according to Brooks.

Yikes, right?

OK, Rangers fans, compose yourselves.

Yes, it seems a little dicey that the two sides reportedly haven’t done much, if anything. Stepan, 25, has a strong argument for a hearty deal – Brooks believes that a contract carrying a $6.5 million cap hit would merely get the ball rolling – but the Rangers hold some leverage in his RFA status.

General Fanager places the Rangers’ cap space at about $10.2 million at the moment, yet the Rangers have other situations to address with RFAs, as J.T. Miller, Emerson Etem and Jesper Fast all need new contracts. There are also some situations to consider for 2016-17, as Kevin Hayes and Chris Kreider rank among the most noteworthy players currently on expiring deals.

Even with that tight squeeze, note that a lot can happen in two weeks, and deals often get hammered out within breathing distance of these hearings.

The outlook just doesn’t seem particularly rosy right now, at least if this report is accurate.

Related: Ryan O’Reilly’s big deal might not be helping matters.

Get to know a draft pick — Paul Bittner

Portland Winterhawks v Kelowna Rockets

Like we’ve done in the past, we’re profiling top prospects who may hear their names called Friday in the first round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. But this year, something new — we’re featuring special guest analysis from former Minnesota Wild scout Mark Seidel, who currently serves as the president of North American Central Scouting.

Paul Bittner (LW)

Height: 6’4 Weight: 204 Shoots: Left

Team: Portland Winterhawks (WHL)

Country: USA

NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 26 among North American skaters

What kind of player is he?

A big one.

One of the largest forwards available at this year’s draft, Bittner — projected to play at 220 pounds at the NHL level — utilized his frame and physicality to score 34 goals in 66 games with the Winterhawks this season. While some of that production came from playing on a stacked line featuring league MVP Oliver Bjorkstrand and Winnipeg prospect Nic Petan, Bittner gave the trio some much-needed bulk, routinely using his size to 1) make space for Bjorkstrand/Petan, and 2) create scoring chances by fending off opponents and driving hard to the net.

“I see Paul as a power forward,” Portland head coach Jamie Kompon said, per the Grand Forks Herald. “He’s a very good skater for a big man. He has a long reach. He has a terrific shot. He uses his body and size very well.

“I see him in that power forward role as a top-six player.”

Seidel says:

“Bittner is another big power forward that skates exceptionally well and has above-average offensive skills. He’s coming out of the ‘prospect factory’ that is WHL Portland, and his game has evolved over the past two years.

“We’d still like to see him become a little more aggressive and committed defensively, but a kid with his size and skating ability will be very enticing as teams gather for the draft on June 26. The game has become very fast, and Bittner’s ability to add offense and get in on the forecheck make him a quality prospect.”

NHL comparable: Chris Kreider

For more 2015 NHL Draft profiles, click here.

Rangers’ Zuccarello to participate in charity hockey game

Mats Zuccarello

There’s good news on the injury front for the New York Rangers.

Forward Mats Zuccarello, who suffered a brain contusion and scull fracture after taking a Ryan McDonagh shot to the head in Game 5 of the Rangers’ first round series with the Pittsburgh Penguins, is healthy enough to participate in a charity game in his native Norway.

Chris Kreider, Derick Brassard, Kevin Hayes and Carl Hagelin are also reportedly taking part in the game on June 19 according to the New York Post.

It’ll mark Zuccarello’s first game action of any kind since April 24.

The 27-year-old began skating with his teammates on May 18, but was never cleared for contact.

Zuccarello scored 15 goals and 49 points in 78 games during the 2014-15 season and added two assists in five playoff games.

His new four-year, $18 million contract begins next season.

Related: Rangers announce Staal, Girardi underwent successful ankle surgeries

Welcome to the trade rumor mill, Evgeni Malkin and Rick Nash

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman has heard from “people around the league” that Evgeni Malkin is unhappy in Pittsburgh and may welcome a change of scenery.

TSN/NBC insider Bob McKenzie believes the Rangers will at least discuss trading Rick Nash.

So, that’s pretty interesting, no?

Obviously, there are significant differences in each team’s situation, but the common denominator is financial pressure:

The Penguins have two of the highest cap hits in the league in Malkin and Sidney Crosby, plus they’ve got Kris Letang on a healthy contract as well. Another thing the Penguins have is a need to get better, and it’s tougher to do that without room under the cap.

The Rangers have a couple of big contracts of their own in Nash and Henrik Lundqvist. They also need to re-sign restricted free agent Derek Stepan this summer, then RFA Chris Kreider next summer.

Throw in the possibility that the salary cap remains at essentially the same level and the financial pressure only increases.

Anyway, enjoy those trade rumors!

Related: Friedman says Penguins need to ‘think about’ trading Malkin