It looks like the Staal brother reunion is going to have to wait, as the New York Rangers and defenceman Marc Staal are reportedly closing in on a six-year deal worth somewhere between $5.6 and $5.9 million a year. With the signing, the Rangers will have the top end of their D-core, including Staal, Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh tied up for the foreseeable future, but will have to make decisions on Martin St. Louis, Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin and Mats Zuccarello who are all reaching the end of their deals this summer. Also, with Staal likely off the market, the summer 2015 UFA market is starting to looking really dry, which is great for guys like Jeff Petry and Cody Franson.
Depending on what Staal’s deal actually ends up being, the Rangers have roughly $54 million tied up in six forwards, five defencemen, and two goalies into next season. As a result, depending on how much the cap rises, they’ll have around $18 million to flesh out their roster and sign ten more players, including some of their key forwards.
Martin St. Louis is currently making $5.625 a season and will hit the unrestricted free agent market this summer unless him and the Rangers come to terms on an extension before the end of the season. After being acquired from the Lightning last season, St. Louis put up only one goal and eight points in 19 games for the Rangers. He stepped up his performance in the playoffs, though, helping the Rangers reach the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 1994 with 15 points in 25 games. He currently sits third in scoring on the Rangers this season with 32 points in 41 games, behind Rick Nash and Derick Brassard.
Mats Zuccarello came out of nowhere for the Rangers last season, putting up 59 points in his first full NHL season. Zuccarello currently makes $3.5 million a year and will also hit the unrestricted free agent market this summer. Along with St. Louis and Zuccarello, the Rangers also have Lee Stempniak and Matt Hunwick hitting UFA status this offseason.
With restricted free agents Derek Stepan, J.T. Miller, Carl Hagelin and John Moore all needing new contracts, the Rangers will have some difficult decisions to make. Stepan is obviously the most important part of that group, with 27 points in 28 games, he’ll likely be the Rangers’ top priority among their impending RFAs. Stepan currently makes $3.075 million a season and will certainly be looking at a pay raise, as his next deal will likely begin eating into his UFA years.
Stepping away from the Rangers, the free agent pool in terms of defencemen is starting to look really weak. If Mike Green and the Capitals can reach an extension before the end of the season, guys like Cody Franson and Jeff Petry are going to have some serious bargaining power as they become two of the most attractive free agents available. If both of those guys hold out on their teams and test the UFA waters, they could be looking at a really big pay day, since most other decent free agent defencemen options (Ehrhoff, Markov, Visnovsky) aren’t getting any younger.