K’Andre Miller’s two-year extension with the New York Rangers yesterday has emphasized what many already know.
With their cap situation tight, and their resources dwindling, New York has a two-year window to win a championship before difficult conversations will have to be had.
This is not new information. The team has just over $3 million in cap space currently with an expected RFA deal to come for former first overall pick Alexis Lafreniere. Once that deal is agreed upon, New York is expected to have less than $1 million leftover. In the post-COVID world though where the NHL continues to only add to the salary cap in small increments, teams like the Rangers have to make difficult decisions with their roster.
Long-term extensions to their young core are not feasible when other big contracts like Jacob Trouba ($8 million) or Artemi Panarin ($11 .6 million) are still on the books for later years as well.
It also doesn’t help that the young core that the Rangers have hitched their wagon on over the years has not been as dominant as the organization would have thought. Lafreniere, Kaapo Kakko and plenty others have shown flashes of greatness, but not the level of consistency that other young teams have shown over the last few years.
Of course, while the lack of development can be brought to the players, how the organization has handled them also plays a key role as well. The signing of Panarin signaled the end of the Rangers’ rebuild but also shunted some of the younger players to less playing time and more pressure to make plays happen instead of naturally growing with the team. It was a move that many celebrated, but has cost New York more time to see what they have in their young talent.
In the end, the Rangers have only themselves to blame for the current time crunch. Long-term deals to veterans and aggressive trade deadlines have meant the team will have to make due with their current roster for the time being without any hope of drastic changes. It’s only in a couple of years though when some of the most beloved Blueshirts could be shipped elsewhere. The clock is ticking on the title window for the New York Rangers. While blame for that can be pointed to a number of factors, it can all change if they can bring a Stanley Cup title back to Madison Square Garden.
If the team isn’t able to accomplish those goals, it leaves several aging veterans on the block. Franchise standouts like Chris Kreider could be in the final years with the organization. Others like Igor Shesterkin and Ryan Lindgren also have their contracts expiring over the next couple of seasons.
There isn’t an easy answer to prolonging the Blueshirts contention plans. The only true solution is to win.
Miller’s contract extension, and Lafreniere’s future may be sealed for the next couple of years but all it has done is begin the timer that started just a couple of years ago.