New York Rangers

Now-retired St. Louis says teams were interested: ‘Do I think I can still play? Yeah’

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It was just two days into free agency when Martin St. Louis announced his retirement from professional hockey — and it turns out there were some suitors for his services during that 48-hour window.

“I knew there were teams interested,” St. Louis said on Monday, while meeting the media to formally call it a career. “I can sit here and be proud that my last year I scored 21 goals and the year before I scored 30, so do I think I can still play? Yeah.

“But it’s time to move on and do something else.”

It’s unclear which teams were interested in the 40-year-old Rangers winger, but it’s easy to see why some would be. Despite a “down” campaign offensively, St. Louis still scored more goals than Daniel Sedin, Ryan Kesler, Patrick Marleau and Bobby Ryan; it’s also possible a team would’ve looked to him as a mentor for some of its younger prospects, especially given St. Louis’ renowned physical fitness (I mean come on, look at those trunks.)

Geography, though, probably limited potential suitors, as part of St. Louis’ earlier move from Tampa Bay to New York was so he could be closer to his family. In fact, spending more time with his wife and children was something he referenced in explaining his decision to walk away from the game.

“My whole family has been so supportive of me and it’s been all about me a lot,” St. Louis said. “Now it’s time for it to be about someone other than me. My wife will be happy to have another full-time parent alongside her.

“The focus is on my kids, and I am excited about that.”

Related: Curtains on Broadway: Martin St. Louis calls it a career

Lack of cap room has made for ‘really difficult’ summer for some free agents

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There are always going to be solid unrestricted free agents that have trouble finding a contract that lives up to expectations, but even in that context this year feels different, according to one longtime agent.

“It’s tough,” the agent told the Columbus Dispatch. “There are plenty of teams interested in adding a player, but they don’t have (salary cap) room. It’s just not there.

“So either they’re trying to make moves to accomodate that, or they’re waiting for the market to adjust. There’s plenty of time. It’s the middle of July. But it’s been really difficult for a lot of guys this summer.”

Thirteen teams have less than $5 million in remaining cap space, according to General Fanager. That number doesn’t include the New York Rangers, which still needs to re-sign RFA Derek Stepan, or the Los Angeles Kings, which might be in limbo as they wait to see how the contract situations with Slava Voynov and Mike Richards play out. So it’s not hard to argue that half the league has little to no cap space remaining. Of course, that doesn’t even start to factor in teams that are expected to stay significantly below the ceiling due to their own internal budgets, rebuilding strategy, or both.

Meanwhile, there are 22 UFAs remaining that came with a cap hit of at least $3 million last season.

There are of course going to be more noteworthy signings, but for teams that have space and the flexibility to add salary, this is a potentially great opportunity to improve their squad at a reduced price. We also might see more salary dumping trades before the 2015-16 campaign starts.

Related: There are some interesting players left on the UFA market

Kesler says Ducks letdowns are ‘not going to happen again’

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Anaheim Ducks management stepped up to the plate in handing Ryan Kesler a hefty six-year, $41.25 million contract extension. Now it’s up to Kesler & Co. to prove that it’s all worth it.

The 30-year-old told the team website that he believes the Ducks “have all the pieces, we just need to put them together.” Kesler also said that falling short of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final ultimately serves as a valuable learning experience for the team.

At what point do you need to put those lessons together for an even deeper playoff run, though? Kesler looked back at the Ducks’ inability to put the Chicago Blackhawks away, including a 5-2 loss in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final:

“We needed a killer instinct in Game 6. We didn’t have it,” Kesler said. “There are two ways we can go about it: We can sulk about it or we can learn from it. I’m gonna make sure, just like all the other leaders on this team, that we learn from this and we learn not to let it happen again. That’s our job as leaders on this team. That’s not gonna happen again, I’ll tell you that.”

One cannot help but wonder how wide open the window really is for the Ducks, actually.

Wrong side of 30

Look, the West remains brutal, particularly with the ascension of Anaheim’s old nemesis, the Dallas Stars.

Still, this may just be the Ducks’ best chance to go all the way. The Blackhawks suffered some significant losses during this summer, and many others seemed to idle or even get worse. On paper, Anaheim might just be the favorite in its conference.

Beyond that, the team’s big names aren’t getting any younger, and the days of having a glut of cap space might be fleeting.

As of this writing, Kesler, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are all 30 years old. According to many, that’s roughly the age where big scorers start to see diminishing returns.

Costly contracts coming

The Ducks will also see a squeeze in contracts, particularly if they don’t get some other extensions done early (like they did with Kesler).

They still have some haggling to do with Carl Hagelin* and Jakob Silfverberg before the 2015-16 season begins. Gearing up for 2016-17 may prove costly, too, as their three goalies (Frederik Andersen, John Gibson, Anton Khudobin) and significant young defensemen Sami Vatanen, Simon Despres and Hampus Lindholm will all need new contracts.

Even with the bright side of Khudobin being the only UFA in mind, the Ducks seem rapidly shift from being a contender with a startling salary cap cushion to another championship hopeful with little room to breathe.

***

Kesler can shrug off the pressure to win all he wants, but with that big new deal, he’ll shoulder a lot of the blame if the Ducks fall short once more.

* – Sorry, had to do it.

Habs lock down Tinordi with one-year, two-way contract

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The Montreal Canadiens signed defenseman Jarred Tinordi to a one-year, two-way contract on Wednesday. The financial terms have not been disclosed.

At this point, the Habs only have one pressing concern remaining: re-signing RFA Alex Galchenyuk. Naturally, much like the New York Rangers with Derek Stepan, getting Galchenyuk under contract will be more challenging than signing the likes of Tinordi and Michael Bournival.

Tinordi, 23, managed to play in 13 regular season games last season, generating two assists. He didn’t receive any reps in the playoffs, but he does have some postseason experience, as he played in five playoff games in 2013.

It’s likely that the young blueliner – drafted 22nd overall in 2010 – will need to battle for playing time. It won’t be easy, yet he has at least one ace up his sleeve:

RFAs out of the way: Rangers sign Fast, Miller

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The New York Rangers crossed two more items off their to-do list on Wednesday, signing RFAs J.T. Miller and Jesper Fast.

The team only officially acknowledged that the two deals are done, but the New York Post’s Larry Brooks reports that Fast’s contract is for two years, $1.9 million (a cap hit of $950K per season) while Miller accepted a qualifying offer of about $874K.

It sounds like Miller might be eyeing the future in compromising his 2015-16 payday:

Of course, there’s still the elephant in the room in Derek Stepan’s negotiations, but the Rangers’ other worries are largely taken care of. Taking those two contracts into consideration, that leaves New York with about $6 million in cap space for Stepan; Brooks reported that $6.5 million would just be a starting point, so there could still be some work to do there.

The Rangers have developed a pattern of saving with RFAs, for the most part, and these two deals stick with that trend.

Fast, 23, generated modest point totals (14 in 58 regular season games, six points in 19 postseason contests), yet he showed flashes of brilliance here and there. Miller, 22, managed slightly better totals and could very well blossom in the near future.

It’s been a busy day with the signing of Dylan McIlrath also in mind, but the team’s executives can’t quite take a vacation just yet.