Derek Stepan might lack a little in the way of negotiating power as a restricted free agent, but the New York Post’s Larry Brooks believes that he recently received a big boost in leverage.
In Brooks’ mind, the big seven-year, $52 million deal ($7.5 million cap hit) Ryan O’Reilly signed with the Buffalo Sabres will leave the New York Rangers in a “cap vise” thanks to its comparables regarding Stepan:
A number than starts with a “7” for Stepan is all but untenable for the Rangers as they are constructed. An award that’s closer to starting with an “8” than a “7” would place the ’15-16 Blueshirts’ roster in a cap vise. Beyond that, an arbitration award almost certainly starts the clock ticking on Stepan’s Broadway expiration date two years hence.
As Brooks notes, it’s plausible that Stepan, 25, may indeed file for salary arbitration by today’s deadline.
Even if this doomsday scenario gets downgraded to things being really tight, Brooks has a point about possible domino effects for the Rangers. General Fanager pegs the Rangers’ cap space at about $10.2 million, so anything in the $7 million range would start to make things uncomfortable, especially since New York still has other RFAs to consider in J.T. Miller, Emerson Etem and Jesper Fast.
Could that force the team’s hand in trading someone like Keith Yandle? Might the Rangers need to make more like the Chicago Blackhawks and move Stepan’s rights instead?
Yes, this speculation could turn out to be excessive worrying, especially if Stepan decided to take a slight “hometown discount” to stay on a contending team/help keep his team in contention.
Even so, if Stepan’s reps use O’Reilly’s extension as a measuring stick, the Rangers might indeed be sweating it.
The Buffalo Sabres added a veteran presence to their blue line, signing Carlo Colaiacovo to a one-year contract. As per Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, the deal is worth $900,000.
The 32-year-old Colaiacovo, who has a history of injuries throughout his career, now joins his fourth team in the last four seasons. He spent 2014-15 with the Philadelphia Flyers, scoring twice with eight points in 33 games.
The Sabres have also added another O’Reilly to their organization.
Yes, in addition to locking up Ryan O’Reilly with a long-term contract on Friday, the Sabres also signed veteran minor league forward Cal O’Reilly to a two-year contract.
Cal O’Reilly led the AHL Utica Comets in points in the regular season (61 points in 76 games) and in the playoffs (19 points, and only two goals, in 23 games).
Ryan O’Reilly won’t have to engage in another contract negotiation for a while. The Buffalo Sabres have given him a seven-year extension, locking the 24-year-old forward up through 2022-23.
O’Reilly’s cap hit next season will be $6 million, per the two-year contract he signed with Colorado last summer. For the next seven seasons after that, it’ll be $7.5 million, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.
It was the failure of O’Reilly and the Avalanche to agree on a long-term deal that led to him being traded to Buffalo last week. He’d reportedly asked Colorado for an eight-year, $64 million contract. Ultimately, that was too rich for the Avs, who felt they had no choice but to trade him.
In Buffalo, O’Reilly will be the Sabres’ highest-paid player. Evander Kane’s cap hit is $5.25 million, Zach Bogosian’s is $5.14 million, Matt Moulson’s is $5 million, and Tyler Ennis’s is $4.6 million.
O’Reilly’s contract is also structured in a way (see: David Clarkson’s deal) that makes it difficult to be bought out:
Related: Jack Eichel signs entry-level deal with Sabres
The St. Louis Blues have agreed to terms on a two-year deal with defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, the club announced on Thursday.
According to Lou Korac of NHL.com, the deal is worth $2.1 million with a $1.05 million annual average value. Bortuzzo will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the deal.
The 26-year-old appeared in 13 regular season games with the Blues following a mid-season trade from the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The St. Louis Blues have also come to terms on a one-year, two-way contract with forward Jordan Caron.
Caron split the 2014-15 season between the Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche organizations.
The 24-year-old appeared in 11 games with the Bruins registering 16 penalty minutes and a minus-1 rating. He was involved in the trade, which saw Max Talbot go from the Avs to the Bruins.
In 19 games with Colorado, Caron picked up two penalty minutes and a minus-1 rating.
Caron was originally a first-round pick of the Boston Bruins (25th overall) in 2009.
Even the day before the draft, Jack Eichel didn’t want to say if he would spend another season with Boston University or sign an entry-level contract over the summer. There was a time when he wasn’t sure himself, but playing in the 2015 World Championship helped inform his decision.
That was the first time he played competitively with and against some of the world’s top professional players. Versus that level of competition he had two goals and seven points in 10 games.
“Before the world championships, I was a little bit unsure,” he told the Buffalo News. “After going over there and having the experience I did, talking to a lot of guys, I came back pretty set on moving on. I could never really make anything public because I hadn’t been drafted yet.”
He made it official Wednesday by signing with the Buffalo Sabres. Along with Evander Kane and Ryan O’Reilly, he’ll be tasked with breathing new life into the worst offensive team of 2014-15. Expectations should be conservative for next season, but there’s no question that the hope is Eichel will develop into the cornerstone of this franchise.