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Henrik Lundqvist

The NHL Buyout Window Opens Today

11:28AM: Larry Brooks notes that a buyout of Brendan Smith is unlikely since a buyout would only save the Rangers just under $500,000 this year compared to sending him to Hartford.

A buyout of Smith would cost the Rangers $2.783 million in dead cap space this season, along with $783,333 in dead space next season while sending him to Hartford would cost $3.275 million in dead cap space this season.

8:28AM: The NHL’s buyout window opens today and runs through October 8th, the day after Day 2 of the NHL Draft and the day before Free Agency begins.


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The most likely buyout candidates for the Rangers are Brendan Smith, Marc Staal and Henrik Lundqvist. Their cap hits if bought out are as follows:

Smith: $4.35M Cap Hit Staal: $5.7M Cap Hit Lundqvist $8.5M Cap Hit
2020-21 $ 2,783,333 $ 3,566,667 $ 5,500,000
2021-22 $ 783,333 $ 1,066,667 $ 1,500,000

The Athletic ranked Lundqvist and Smith at 1 and 2, respectively, on their list of most likely buyout candidates.

Larry Brooks wrote in the NY Post that the Rangers don’t have to buyout Lundqvist during the first buyout period since they will, likely, get a second buyout period of 24 hours following the conclusion of their hearings or settlements with players that filed for arbitration.

Brooks notes that keeping Lundqvist through the first buyout period would allow the goalie market to play out and potentially lead to a better landing spot for Lundqvist. (NY Post)

The Rangers used their second buyout period last year to buy out Kevin Shattenkirk.

The Rangers already have $7.49 million of dead space committed to buyouts of Shattenkirk ($6.083 million), Dan Girardi ($1.11 million) and Ryan Spooner ($300,000).

Adam Rotter: It’s in the Rangers best interest to stop buying out players and adding dead space to the cap, especially as it remains flat and they will need every nickel in the next few years to extend Mika Zibanejad and the rest of their new “core.” Buying out players is never ideal but in a regular year the increase in the salary cap usually covers those cap charges, but with the cap remaining flat it makes for a bigger crunch.

The cap space aspect is always what is looked at with a buyout, but usually in the context of freeing up money to sign another player and getting back towards the upper limit of the cap. For the Rangers, at least in this instance, that is likely only part of the equation. Any cap space the Rangers can get, and then not use, would be a hedge against major performance bonuses that Kaapo Kakko, Igor Shesterkin or Alexis Lafreniere could get. Right now, with Kakko, Shesterkin, Fox, Lindgren, Chytil and Julien Gauthier, the Rangers have around $7.2 million in potential bonus charges and that number will likely get to around $10 million once Lafreniere signed. Any bonus amount that would put the Rangers past the upper limit of the salary cap, likely due to winning end of season awards, would be applied to the following season’s cap.  Will they all hit every bonus and force the Rangers into making sure they have $10 million in extra salary cap space just in case? No, especially since some of the bonuses likely conflict with each other, but it’s something the Rangers have to have some flexibility with.

Henrik Lundqvist’s situation is unique and will get resolved when it gets resolved. With Smith and Staal, it makes sense to buy out Smith since his cap charges for this year and next year are cheaper. I don’t think the Rangers want to buy out Smith, a veteran leader that David Quinn can use on defense, at forward and on the PK, but they may need to do it for the cap space and to give Libor Hajek or K’Andre Miller more of a chance to make the team. Smith has a modified no-trade clause but the Rangers may be able to trade him by retaining salary. I doubt the Rangers buy out Staal, especially if they buy out Smith. Maybe I value his presence as a veteran and him being a bridge from the old Rangers to the new Rangers too much, I just think Staal still has a role and can be useful as the Rangers move forward this season. It’s very likely that this is his last season as a Ranger, and while his cap charges aren’t terrible, I think they would prefer to bring him back.