Now that the Rangers have added Grabner, Gerbe, and Paliotta it seems that the roster is starting to take shape. Jeff Gorton and the Rangers front office have commenced work on the restricted free agents.
The Rangers have 4 RFA’s this off-season: Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, Dylan McIlrath, and Kevin Hayes. All four players have filed for arbitration and have arbitration hearings scheduled on the following dates:
Dylan McIlrath: 07/21
Chris Kreider: 07/22
Kevin Hayes: 07/27
J.T. Miller: 08/02
Although the players have filed for arbitration, the Rangers can avoid the hearings by agreeing to terms with any player before their respective dates. It is very common for teams to come to terms prior to the hearing date in order to avoid the nasty arbitration process.
Today, J.T. Miller was the first player to avoid arbitration. The Rangers agreed on a 2-year bridge contract worth $2.75 million per year. This deal makes perfect sense to me. Similar to the Chris Kreider bridge contract from two years ago, it allows the Rangers to be more flexible with the salary cap issues they presently have, while also allowing the team the opportunity to be sure they want to commit to Miller long-term after the next two seasons. The problem you run into with bridge contracts is that after the two years, players demand large, long-term deals which are often too pricey for the organization. This, sadly, is what is currently happening with Chris Kreider.
Miller, a 23-year-old winger, can likely add 20 goals and 40 assists this upcoming year. He is worth every penny we spent and will likely be looked at as a future long-term piece for the NYR. The problem, which we all knew was coming, is that the Rangers now only have $9.95 million dollars left under cap. With this $9.95 million, the Rangers will need to sign Kreider, Hayes, McIlrath, and some additional depth forwards due to the Oscar Lindberg injury. This will be a tough task and it’s possible 1 of the 3 big names above is left out of the picture come October.
So far, so good for the ever-patient Jeff Gorton. We will update if and when the other RFA’s sign before arbitration or if any players s on into the hearing.
Stay Tuned. Let’s Go Rangers!