Wanna blog? Start your own hockey blog with My HockeyBuzz. Register for free today!

NHL Contract Efficiency - Rangers ranked 24th in NHL by the Athletic, Vesey

August 6, 2022, 11:22 PM ET [70 Comments]
Jan Levine
New York Rangers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
This past week, the Athletic and Dom Luszczyszyn ranked how each team stacked up in regard to the efficiency of all the contracts they currently have signed. The rankings followed the same criteria as the best and worst contracts: How much surplus value will the deal provide and what’s the likelihood of providing positive value?

Keys to the rankings are:
1) The contracts being graded include every healthy, non-ELC skater who carries a projected value from the model. 2) Any dead money (buyouts, retention, recapture) on the books counts too. 3) the exercise doesn’t factor in unused cap space as part of the equation as there’s no telling exactly how that space will be used (or misused). This is all about the value currently on the books (as of July 29); spending to the salary cap isn’t a bad thing if a team is good. 4)  Age matters a lot here (all future projections are adjusted), as does term length as surplus value can compound over longer deals, for better or worse.

Per the rankings, the Rangers ranked 24th. The rationale provided in the column is below. My thoughts are just after that.

It’s very tough to rank this low with one of the best contracts in the league. Adam Fox is a steal at $9.5 million per year and gives the Rangers an epic head start. Chris Kreider, after exploding for 52 goals last year, adds a bit more to that. As does Ryan Lindgren, Fox’s primary partner.

But after that things get really dicey. Mika Zibanejad is fairly paid, but the team’s other best forward, Artemi Panarin, is seeing some real decline and is now in the big half of a big ticket deal. With his talent level, he can easily get back in the black, but the big surplus value New York used to see from him isn’t there.

The bigger issue comes from the team’s two free agent splashes over the last two seasons, Barclay Goodrow and Vincent Trocheck. They’re good players, but the contracts are a little too long for what they bring to the table. Trocheck may be worth $5.6 million now, but it’s unlikely he will be at that level for the majority of his deal. Goodrow was an overpayment from the get-go and his gritty style likely doesn’t age well. Those two really hinder New York’s cap sheet up front, while Jacob Trouba causes some headaches on the back end. Trouba is a top pairing calibre player, but $8 million is reserved for a player who can be a number one defender. He can’t and should be closer to $5 or $5.5 million. Combine the negative value of Trouba (-$10.9 mil) Trocheck (-$10 mil) and Goodrow (-17.4 mil) and the big lead that Fox’s deal gives the Rangers evaporates.

It’s not that the Rangers overpay a lot, they’re 16th in surplus value, it’s that the deals aren’t the best bets and they pay a lot to earn wins. The 42 percent positive value probability ranks 25th in the league while the team’s $5.2 million cost per win ranks dead last. No one pays more for a skater win than New York.

It’s worth keeping in mind that goalies aren’t included here and that would surely see the Rangers climb the ranks. The best goalie in the league at $5.7 million for three more years is incredible value. No one pays less for a goalie win than New York.

A few thoughts by me, in order of player:
1) Mika Zibanejad - fairly paid, yes, but to presume a negative surplus value is likely undervaluing his contract. He signed an eight-year, $68 million contract extension with the Rangers last October. Zib got off to a slow start last year, but he turned it on to end up setting a new career-high in points, averaging a point per game. Then in the playoffs, despite past history and concerns he wouldn't produce, Zib, starting late in the Pittsburgh series, was fairly unstoppable.

2) Artemi Panarin - this is the line that made no sense, unless you are solely talking about the playoffs. "Panarin is seeing some real decline and is now in the big half of a big ticket deal." You can argue in the postseason, this was the case or at least, he was not as dominant as he was during the regular season. But in the regular season, Panarin was better in the second half of the season, finishing with a new career-high in points, despite a decline in goals. To presume a $3.2 million shortfall value on his deal seems shortsighted.

3) Vincent Trocheck - slated to make $5.6 mil over the next seven years and his deal is rated as a C- with a $10 million shortfall while Ryan Strome making $5 mil over each of the next five years is a B- with a $2.5 million surplus. The dollar difference over the first five years is $3 mil. If you presume the entire last two years are purely negative value, Strome still is projected to outearn Trocheck - who is the same age - for the term of his deal. You can likely figure out my view.

4) Barclay Goodrow - projected to have a negative $17.4 mil in value. I think we all believe giving him a six-year, $21.85 million contract was likely an overpayment. But that signing was made to provide New York a new image, someone who had a Cup pedigree and someone who will do whatever it takes to win and can be moved up and down the lineup. The ironic part is that Blake Coleman signed to a six-year, $29.4 million deal is projected at a $7.2 negative surplus value, yet Goodrow, making more than a mil less per season, has $10 million more in negative value.

5) Jacob Trouba - signed a seven-year, $56 million contract with the Rangers in July of 2019 after coming over from Winnipeg. Most of us felt the latter part of the deal would not age well, especially seeing his performance his first two seasons. But last year, Trouba was brilliant, providing offense with physical play while also improving defensively. He still lacks foot speed, but if Trouba has two years similar to what we saw this past season, the deal will age better than we thought.

Chris Kreider and Adam Fox rightfully have positive value. As Luszczyszyn pointed out, goalie value is not included. If it was. Igor Shesterlkin's positive surplus would have moved the team way up the ranking list.

Slap Shots has learned that a reunion between the Rangers and Jimmy Vesey is on the horizon.

The 29-year-old famously signed with the Blueshirts as a Kevin Hayes-type free agent in 2016-17 after rejecting offers from both the Predators, who drafted the Harvard product 66th overall in 2012, and from the Sabres, who traded for his rights. Following stops in Buffalo, Toronto and Vancouver after leaving Manhattan, Vesey is coming off a solid season in New Jersey as a depth forward

Presumably signing a free-agent deal for around the $750,000 minimum that would not count against the cap if assigned to AHL Hartford, Vesey — who went 50-40-90 in 240 games for the Rangers his first time around — will compete for the kind of fourth-line, bottom-six role that Tyler Motte filled so well last spring, but has priced himself out of.

Vesey would be fine as depth forward. If for some reason the team or coach Gerard Gallant views him as a possible third line winger, then we will have major issues. Vesey could be a decent fourth line player that can chip in periodically offensively. I still would love to find a way to bring back Tyler Motte, who to me is the better player as he has more speed along with the ability to be a difference maker on the penalty kill. But that ship, despite Motte still not being signed, may have sailed. Adding Vesey, who can go to Hartford, which would be a key aspect, would be fine, as long as he is used the right way.

Join the Discussion: » 70 Comments » Post New Comment
More from Jan Levine
» Rangers training camp updates: Hajek, Fourth line, Kravtsov and Panarin
» Day 2 of training camp: Igor hit a few times, Panarin line, Goodrow healthy
» Rangers start training camp, Gallant presser provides some initial answers
» Rangers begin quest for the Cup with the opening of training camp today
» Nils Lundkvist dealt to Stars for two picks, including a 2023 1st rounder