This past weekend, amongst all the activity came a significant move that will impact the Rangers very soon. In signing restricted free agent Miro Heiskanen to a brand new eight-year contract worth a reported $67.6 million on Sunday, the Stars set the market for top defensemen Cale Makar, Quinn Hughes and Adam Fox.
With an average cap hit that comes out just below $8.5 million per year, Heiskanen will be handsomely paid in Dallas. Playing in a state with no income tax, he will get more of that money unlike Fox, who can turn restricted next summer. The big difference being he plays in
ridiculously heavily taxed New York State. Given that the Rangers’ Steven McDonald Award Winner won the Norris Trophy by beating out Makar, who also is in line for a hefty raise this summer, Fox stands to make a ton when his entry level contract expires.
If Heiskanen can get $8.45 million AAV through 2029, just imagine what Makar and Fox will receive. Both are better players than the talented smooth skating Stars’ defenseman who was instrumental in helping them reach the 2020 Stanley Cup Final. Heiskanen is no doubt an elite player who should improve. However, compared to both Fox and Makar, his offensive numbers are a cut beneath.
Imagine what Makar will get from the Avalanche, who are still hoping Gabriel Landeskog comes off his crazy contract demands north of $8 million in a flat cap. It doesn’t sound promising. Colorado already saved money by dealing Ryan Graves to the Devils and are prepared to possibly lose Erik Johnson. The number for Makar could be between nine and ten million. That also figures to be what Fox will wind up with. Quinn Hughes should come in a little lower in Vancouver. But his offensive skill is immense. Ditto for Makar, who should be the ’21-22 favorite to win the Norris.
With Rangers’ Team President and GM Chris Drury focused on getting Barclay Goodrow signed over the next week before he can test the market, he’ll eventually have to tackle the Foxy proposition. One of the first things he did was wisely re-sign Ryan Lindgren to a three-year deal worth $9 million. Getting Fox’s partner signed was a must. Why wait another year on Fox, who if he duplicates his ’21 success, could command even more money? After he takes care of the situations involving Pavel Buchnevich, Igor Shesterkin and Filip Chytil, Drury should see if he can try to extend Fox before October. That way that isn’t a concern moving forward. The best part is his next contract won’t go on the books until ’22-23.
When they released the protect list yesterday, Libor Hajek was included for the Rangers. He’s a restricted free agent. Having finally taken a step forward by establishing himself as a regular who can play third pair on the blue line, the forgotten part of the Ryan McDonagh/J.T. Miller trade may or may not be part of the roster moving forward. Due to the arrival of Nils Lundkvist along with Zac Jones, who made a nice first impression, Hajek might be the odd man out. Currently, the Blueshirts have four locks. They are Fox, Lindgren, Jacob Trouba and K’Andre Miller. Then the question is will Drury add a veteran defenseman similar to Brendan Smith, who might not be back. They still need some experience. Whether it’s a Niklas Hjalmarsson, Michael Del Zotto, or even <gulp> Alec Martinez, one more experienced player is needed to lend support to the defense. Unless they keep Hajek, who proved capable on the third pair, why rush Lundkvist or Jones? They might not be fully ready.
I’ve seen a few differing opinions on Goodrow. From the uneducated who continue to overlook the need for a gritty, physical forward to supply what the Rangers lacked. To the educated who noticed what an effective player Goodrow was in helping the Lightning win back-to-back Cups. The third line of Yanni Gourde, Blake Coleman and Goodrow was tough for opponents to play against. So was the fourth line that featured Tyler Johnson, Ross Colton and Pat Maroon. Having the right combo of skill and grit matters.
Just putting this out here for the naysayers. Islanders 13 Rangers 1. We still have yet to locate Artemi Panarin or Mika Zibanejad. The Rangers’ two best forwards. Even Fox struggled against the Isles. As did Ryan Strome and Buchnevich. That’s where the grit comes in. Why do you think the Identity Line that featured Casey Cizikas, Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck were so effective? Hint: It’s not about skill. But a word that rhymes with it.
The latest on Carey Price isn’t good. Apparently, the Canadiens’ best player has an injury that’ll likely lead to off-season surgery that could keep him sidelined the first eight weeks or even possibly longer. That’s why it was at his suggestion to Montreal GM Marc Bergevin that he would waive his No-Movement Clause by signing a waiver so the Habs could make the franchise netminder available for the Expansion Draft on Wednesday. Price wanted Bergevin to keep insurance policy Jake Allen, who proved to be a good pickup this past year. A player who would’ve drawn interest from the Kraken, instead he will stay in Montreal.
It’s also worth noting that Price is due an $11 million signing bonus. That’s in addition to the remaining five years of his contract that pays an average cap hit of $10.5 million through 2026. Price turns 34 on August 16. More astonishing is that he performed so well in the postseason despite knee and hip issues. According to Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic, he will see a doctor in New York this week.
Given the nature of the Price situation, it’s highly unlikely the Kraken will select him. It sounds far too risky. They are evaluating everything in preparation for Wednesday. A better suggestion is selecting Wild goalie Kaapo Kahkonen, who isn’t protected despite being the heir apparent to Cam Talbot. My guess is Minnesota will try work out a deal to prevent Seattle from grabbing him. Kahkonen has good upside. I doubt the Wild want to lose him.
Finally, this is who Carey Price is. What a great person.
All the best to him.