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Rangers Face Fascinating Cap Situation in 2021, Could Shoot Up Standings

The New York Rangers will be in a prime position to make a major splash in free agency next offseason.

The New York Rangers have found themselves in an interesting situation this coming season. A rebuilding team just a year ago, winning the NHL Draft Lottery after signing Artemi Panarin, the organization is poised to be a better team than people expect. That said, their potential jump in the standings this season is nothing compared to what they could do in 2021-22.

Related: Scribe Calls Ryan Strome Trade from Rangers a Near Certainty

As The Athletic points out, the Rangers have one of the most unusual cap structures in the league. They’ve currently got $13 million allocated to six buyouts and another $10 million in potential performance bonuses that they’ll need to manage over the summer. If they can do so effectively, they’ll be poised to make massive strides in free agency.

The dead money that most teams would absolutely hate to have on their books isn’t crippling the Rangers like it would most other teams. Because this rebuilding squad has so many entry-level deals on their roster, the Rangers can absorb some of the salaries lost in what some are calling a “transition year”. In other words, if their inexpensive top goaltender, high-caliber top-tier defenceman, and No. 1 overall pick Alexis Lafreniere can get the Rangers through this season on cheap deals, the Rangers can add significant pieces during the 2021 offseason to help them out. 

What’s So Special About Next Offseason?

The Rangers have $9 million of the buyout money coming off the books in 2021. So too, one of their not-so team friendly contracts in Brendan Smith will end as well. That means, in one year from now, the Rangers will have between $10 million and $15 million to use in free agency.

Tony DeAngelo and Artemi Panarin Rangers
Tony DeAngelo and Artemi Panarin Rangers

Keep in mind, projections are that next offseason will be even stickier than this offseason was for teams who lack the cap space to go after free agents. The most valuable weapon teams had was the ability to spend money and clubs that had cap room made huge strides by signing some great value deals with free agents. The Rangers, who are often an already attractive location for players, will have money to spend and a desire to spend it.

They’ll be the attraction of playing with Panarin and Lafreniere along with the look a feel of joining a team on the rise. All will be a significant factor in attracting players who will be looking to secure half-decent deals.

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