If you are expecting Gorton to buyout Girardi or Staal, don’t hold your breath

Jeff Gorton (Getty)

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are over, and now the fun begins. ‘Tis the season of rumors: trades, free agents, drafts, and buyouts. This time of the year, every Rangers fan gets to put on their GM hat and spew their best trades and clever signings that will put the Blueshirts over the top, once and for all. Everybody and their dog has the perfect acquisition or transaction that will finally lead us to the canyon of heroes this time next year, for the first time since 1994.

Buyouts Are Bad

I follow some sharp hockey minds on social media to read their insights, inside info, and ideas hockey in general. Some are pro hockey media, and some are learned fans. But the one notion that really makes me cringe is the idea of the buyout. A buyout is a really bad idea for a hockey organization. It is the gift that keeps on giving, in reverse; the curse that keeps on cursing? A very popular idea in Rangerstown is to buyout Dan Girardi and/or Marc Staal. While it might seem like a good idea now, it couldn’t be a more destructive idea. A buyout would only placate the team in the short-term while crippling it in the long term.

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A buyout of Girardi would leave dead space of $2.61 million next season, saving the team just under $3 million. But then, in the next TWO seasons, that number leaps to $3.61 million, leaving just $1.9 million in savings. And for the cherry on top of this horrible sundae, we get $1.1 million in dead cap space that can’t be touched for three additional years, just to remind us how stupid the idea was in the first place.

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As for Marc Staal? Just say no! Find another way! Let me illustrate why: In years one and two, the hit isn’t bad at $2.13 million, saving the Blueshirts $3.56 million. In year three, it jumps to $3.13 million, leaving the team $2.56 million in savings. And, get this, in year four, the dead space would be $3.93 million, allowing for just $1.76 million in savings! And after all of that, there are an additional four years, with $1.43 million in cap space, that cannot be used.

Logically, you look at those numbers, and have to at least pause. There are some folks out there that want both of those players bought out. Those numbers, if added is just cap suicide.

Now, rationally put yourself in Jeff Gorton’s shoes. A buyout of either player will hamstring your team financially, for so many years, that he probably wouldn’t be here by the time it was off the books. As GM of a team that play at or near the salary cap, do you want to choose to play under the cap for 6 or 8 years? Yes, Marc Staal and Dan Girardi no longer fit the Rangers style of play. But there is a smarter way of moving them.

Bribe Deals

If all of these numbers aren’t convincing enough, look at what other teams have done in the past. The Chicago Blackhawks favor the “bribe deal”. Last summer, Chicago traded Teuvo Teravainen with Bryan Bickell (bad contract) to Carolina for a second round pick and a third round pick. Teravainen, a promising young player, was enticing enough to Carolina to take on that contract.

This method seems to be a favorite of the Blackhawks, as rumors indicate that they will be giving (through trade or not protecting) Trevor Van Riemsdyk to Vegas, as long as they take Marcus Kruger and his $3.1 million salary cap hit.

While other teams like the Islanders famously, or infamously, bought out Alexei Yashin with, coincidentally, four years left on his deal, it left them with $2.2 million in dead cap space. Quite simply, which of those teams has a history of doing things the right way, and which has a history of doing them the wrong way?

Make Good Decisions

What all of this boils down to, is that there is no game changing player out there that would make buying out either of those contracts a good financial decision. In June of 2011, the Rangers did buy out the injured Chris Drury and spent the $3.3 million in savings on Brad Richards and their own free agents. The difference there was Drury had one year left on his deal. So the dead cap space was around $3.2 million for one year and $1.66 million for the following season.

The bottom line is you can’t, as a general manager, handicap yourself and your team by lowering your cap hit for six or eight years. It will eventually contribute to getting you fired, in all probability; and that same decision could then impede you getting another job. Jeff Gorton is a creative man, and I look forward to seeing what moves he makes to reshape the team. Just don’t hit the buyout button and if what sources tell me are true…he hates that option and we won’t likely see it.



  • Agree entirely. In Girardi’s case, he can be traded for a draft pick as he could still be a 5th or 6 th D on another team. He played pretty well against Montreal really. Rangers made stupid trades to win the Cup & will now pay the price.

    • What stupid trade are you taking about? Callahan for St. Louis? How much was Callahan’ s rediculous contract that is now Tampa Bay’s problem for a 3rd line player? St Louis catapulted the Rangers to the Finals that year, something that would have never happened with Callahan? Or are you referring to the Rick Nash deal involving Dubinsky, Anisimov and Erixson? Duby had sunken to bear rock bottom under Torts, Anisimov most famous moment as a Ranger was him starting a brawl for a celebration and where is Erixson now? Nash has been a very good player since he got to New York. If those deals never happened the Rangers do not make the Finals and the Conference Finals in back to back years.

  • Love the make good decisions section but have to point this out. When buying out Drury, they bought out one bad contract and added a new one in Richards. Most of the people yelling for buyout are also hoping for Shattenkirk, who will get at least 6 million for 7 years, seems pretty similar to the previous situation. Only difference is there is currently no amnesty buy out to bail us out of it, otherwise wed still have Richards or his absurd buyout penalty. While the CBA will expire I also dont expect amnesty buyouts to come added again, it was only an option due to the penalties that were involved for early retirement of back diving contracts, like Richards had.

    As for Bribe deals, the return of a second and third seems to be the going price as proven by the deal with Florida sending Bolland/Crouse to Phoenix. While I agree, this is an option, if I was a GM and Gorton was asking to take Staal at full price, I want Skjei/Buchnevich/Shestyorkin. Girardi will take less due cause of the year shorter on his contract, but will cost a name like Gropp/Day/Graves. While it gets them off the books its a big price to pay. Its easy for a team with top end talent to send a player like Teravainen to get rid of a bad contract but are the Rangers really in the position to do so.

    There is also the bad contract swap where NYR take on a shorter term/lower cap hit and give up a pick to the team taking on the longer/high cap hit. Not the best scenario, but it will cost less, and if it helps towards cap space as well as less of asset cost not the worst decision.

    Another option the Rangers have is the retain salary option. While it will create dead cap space, it does not carry additional years, is lower than the hit even if the full 50% is fully retained, but more importantly it will not carry as big of an asset to move the contract. This may be the way to go for Staal.

    • If Gorton cannot get a deal done to move either one, he has to decide what is worse dead cap space or dead rink space?

    • Kris I totally agree with you. Makes absolutely zero sense to buy out Girardi or Staal and bribe a team to take the one you couldn’t buy out just to sign another cap killing deal. Then the same fans who wanted Shattenkirk would complain about his spiraling downward play and cap hit.

      There are far better defensive free agents out there who will sign a contract for far cheaper than what Shattenkirk will sign for and actually improve the Rangers defenseman.

      • Mike,

        My biggest problem with Shattenkirk is he has never been a first pair dman and as the big name free agent hes going to get atleast 6 million for 7 years. Id rather him prove me wrong somewhere else, then prove me right here.

        Id much rather make a trade for someone younger and give up an asset or two then just sign him.

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