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If Brendan Lemieux and/or Tony DeAngelo remain unsigned, what next?

August 25, 2019, 12:21 AM ET [1 Comments]
Jan Levine
New York Rangers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
With training camp slated to open September 12, which less that three weeks away, as Larry Brooks wrote earlier this, the situation with Brendan Lemiuex and Tony DeAngelo appears no closer to resolution. Besides possibly extending a few professional tryout offers, the current Rangers' roster is unlikely to change much., But if the Lemieux and ADA stalemate continues far into the preseason, the downstream impact could be fairly substantial.

As Brooks noted, in the final week of June when the Rangers submitted one-year, $874,125 qualifying offers to Tony DeAngelo and Brendan Lemieux, who are restricted free agents without arbitration rights. The last part of that sentence is the key: "without arbitration rights." That means that both players have very little leverage. They could opt not to sign the qualifying offer and hold out. Both players could potentially try and take their talents to Europe, but even if they go that route, the Rangers will hold their rights when they return, potentially setting up the same issue down the road. The third option is to hope to attract an offer sheet.

The latter, if one or both occur, would put new York in a very dangerous and difficult position. The Rangers would receive no compensation as return on an unmatched offer sheet of $1,395,053 or below and only a third-rounder for an unmatched offer sheet of between $1,395,053.01 and $2,113,716. With minimal cap room, New York would be forced to try and move Vladislav Namestnikov, Ryan Strome or Brendan Smith with minimal salary retained or returned to create enough room to sign both players. But GM Jeff Gorton either had little success with this option earlier this summer or opted not to pursue this option, resulting in the buyout of Kevin Shattenkirk. In addition, each player might believe - and they are probably right - that they could earn more than $2.1 million when arb eligible next season, so neither is likely to sign more than a one-year deal. As such, why would a team give up a third-rounder for just one year at that salary?

Lemieux, who came over from Winnipeg, in the Kevin Hayes, and ADA, part of the return in the Derek Stepan deal, bring sandpaper to the lineup. Each fit the style that coach David Quinn has tried to instill in this team, where hard, straight edge play is rewarded and recognized. Both have a chance - especially in the case of ADA - to play key roles. Lemieux appears to be a perfect bottom-six forward, who can chip in offensively. While if ADA improves his own zone play, he could be a second pairing blueliner in the future.

Brooks noted that DeAngelo’s agent, Pat Brisson, and Lemieux’s representative, Claude Lemieux, politely declined to provide updates on talks between their respective clients and the Rangers. But Forever Blueshirts wrote last week that Claude Lemieux responded to a query on the negotiations, stating: " I have had a few conversations with the Rangers management team but I can’t say that we are close to signing a new contract.” I also wanted Claude’s perspective on his son playing in one of the NHL’s best rivalries. Lemieux said, “I think it’s awesome to see him experience the Rangers – Devils rivalry from the other side of the river!” The exchange concluded with this final thought, “He is a great fit for that young club and he hopes to be part of the rebuild for many years.” In addition, ADA reportedly may want more than a $1 million per to sign, meaning that each stalemate could linger into training camp.

Let's say neither are signed when the season starts. If Lemieux is not with the team, that opens the door for Boo Nieves or Greg McKegg or Phil Di Giuseppe to break camp. In addition, as this situation lingers, Gorton might be more willing to extend a PTO. Could Brian Boyle or Jamie McGinn or Tobias Rieder or Devante Smith-Pelly be worth a PTO, especially Boyle? If ADA remains out, then Adam Fox, Yegor Rykov, Libor Hajek and Ryan Lindgren (maybe even Tarmo Reunanen) have a better chance to break camp with the team, as one unexpected spot is open on defense. Brendan Smith could maybe avoid a Hartford demotion if ADA is unsigned. But might it behoove Gorton to reach out to Fredrik Claesson in case one or more of Fox, Rykov, Hajek, Lindgren and Reunanen is not ready? Clearly not the most attractive of options, but the Rangers need to be protected for the worst case scenario.

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