After signing Kaapo Kakko, the Rangers can put together a 23-man roster (including Libor Hajek ($800,000), Julien Gauthier ($800,000), Vitali Kravtsov ($875,000), and Zac Jones ($925,000)) that will leave them with $133,531 in space. (Cap Friendly)
Sending Dryden Hunt ($762,500) to Hartford, via waivers, would give the Rangers $896,031 in cap space, keeping Hunt and sending Gauthier ($800,000) to Hartford, via waivers, would give the Rangers $933,531 in cap space.
With this roster, the Rangers would have enough cap space at the trade deadline to add $4.2 million worth of players. (Puck Pedia)
The Rangers could send Ryan Reaves to Hartford, via waivers, and his cap hit would go down from $1.75 million to $625,000.
Former Ranger Tyler Motte is still available as a free agent.
Adam Rotter: Unlike a bunch of teams, the Rangers don’t need to make any moves to become cap compliant. So while the Rangers don’t need to make any moves to be cap compliant, they will still be looking for ways to increase the amount of cap space, however incremental it may be, each day of the season.
Salary cap space accrues every day of the season and the Rangers will need that built up salary cap space to make trades and improve the roster around the trade deadline. How they do that remains to be seen and could include the Rangers shuttling Braden Schneider, Zac Jones or Nils Lundkvist to Hartford (because they don’t yet need waivers), in a paper transaction on off days to clear them from the books and then call them up to play/when needed.
It’s going to take a lot of gymnastic work to give the Rangers the amount of cap space needed to maximize their options. And all of these projections are before injuries complicate things along the way and necessitate call ups that could eat into that space. We also don’t know where the Rangers will need to upgrade. The focus is on Patrick Kane as a pending UFA, his cup winning experience, continued high level of play and elite chemistry with Artemi Panarin. If he is indeed the main target then I think the Rangers would probably investigate involving a third team and sending a pick somewhere so Kane’s cap hit goes from $10.5 million to $5.25 million, (the 50% Chicago would retain) and then $5.25 million to $2.625 million (the 50% that the third team would retain). JT Miller starts at the same $5.25 million and so Vancouver retaining 50% would get him to the Rangers at the same $2.625 million. Those salary retentions would be huge and then allow the Rangers to use their remaining space to bolster their defense with another Justin Braun, or possibly Justin Braun again, type of player. There is a lot of time between now and then and maybe the Rangers won’t need to make major upgrades because Alexis Lafreniere, Kaapo Kakko and Filip Chytil have all taken big offensive steps, Vitali Kravtsov has a nice role and Sammy Blais returns healthy. But Chris Drury and the Rangers need to prepare themselves and put them in a position where if they can land a true difference maker they will have the space to do it.