The New York Rangers Should Try to Keep Michael Grabner
June 27, 2015 it was draft day morning, and I received two notifications on my phone.
“The Rangers have traded goaltender Cam Talbot, and the 209th overall pick, to the Edmonton Oilers, in exchange for the 57th, 79th, and 184th overall pick.”
I knew this trade was going to happen. Was I disappointed that the Rangers did not receive the first round pick they were rumored to get? Yes, but three picks for a back-up goaltender is pretty solid.
Then, I saw the next notification, and my heart sank.
“The Rangers have traded left-winger Carl Hagelin and two draft-picks (59 and 179), to the Anaheim Ducks for right-winger Emerson Etem, and the 41st overall pick in the 2015 draft.”
From a business perspective, I understood this trade. Hagelin was coming of a two-year 4.5 million dollar contract and was deserving of a raise, which he received when he signed a four-year, 16 million dollar contract with the Ducks. The Rangers used Hagelin’s cap space to sign Viktor Stalberg, Jarret Stoll, Rapheal Diaz, Oscar Lindberg, Emerson Etem, Jesper Fast, J.T. Miller, Derek Stepan, Boo Nieves, Antti Raanta, and Pavel Buchnevich (there were more signings, I listed the players that made the team either then, or in the future).
The Emerson Etem experiment never worked out with the Rangers as he only played nineteen games with the club, and was later traded to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for Nicklas Jensen.
The Rangers lost a key penalty killer and a blazing fast skater in Carl Hagelin, and were looking for a cheap free-agent option. Enter, Michael Grabner. Grabner signed a two-year, 1.6 million dollar contract on the opening day of free-agency. The Rangers thought that they signed a poor-mans Carl Hagelin, but instead, they received a scorer.
In six seasons played with the Vancouver Canucks and Islanders, Grabner scored 95 goals and 155 points in 317 games. His best season was 2010-11, when he scored 34 goals and 52 points in 76 games with the Islanders. The Islanders traded Grabner to the Maple Leafs for five players during the 2015 season.
However, Grabner was a disappointment for the Leafs. He scored 18 points in 80 games with the Maple Leafs. Thus, the Leafs opted to let him go via free-agency.
Grabner has excelled with the Rangers over the last two years. Under Alian Vigneault, Grabner is able to use his speed to his advantage, and his line-mates will keep up with him, because the Rangers are a fast team. Last season, Grabner scored 27 goals and 40 points. Grabner was one goal short of the team lead. This season has been more of the same for Grabner, as he has 15 points through 26 games.
The Rangers will have a busy offseason. The Rangers have eleven free agents that they will have to deal with! Rick Nash, J.T. Miller, Kevin Hayes, Michael Grabner, David Desharnais, Jimmy Vesey, Boo Nieves, Paul Carey, Nick Holden, Brady Skjei, and Ondrej Pavelec will all be free agents in the 2018-19 offseason. Presuming that David Desharnais, Paul Carey, Nick Holden, and Ondrej Pavelec are not offered contracts, the Rangers will have approximately $7,088,396 in cap-space.
On Friday, November 17th, in a press conference in Montreal, NHL Comissioner Gary Bettman stated that NHL league revenues could be between 4.5-5.0 billion dollars. This could mean a drastic increase in the NHL salary cap.
If NHL revenues are as robust as Bettman said today, the salary cap will go way up next summer. Plausibly $80- to $82-million. Pretty interesting.
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) November 18, 2017
The Athletic’s own James Mirtle reports that the NHL 2018-19 salary cap could increase 5-7 million next summer. This could mean that the Rangers would have anywhere from 12,088,396-14,088,396 million dollars in cap-space. This is not only good for all NHL teams looking to sign free-agents, but this could also mean that the Rangers will have cap-space to sign Micael Grabner as well as their other free agents.
Michael Grabner is putting up excellent numbers with the Rangers, and the Rangers should make a serious effort to keep him.