Crawford's Corner: Mid-summer Free Agent/Roster Update

Jul 29, 2015

As the calendar careens past the first of August, and training camps loom only a little more than a month away, following is an update on the contract statuses of the crew of players who finished the 2014-15 season with the Wolf Pack.

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Pack second-leading scorer Oscar Lindberg has re-signed, reportedly on a two-year, one-way deal.  After his 28-goal season, and strong playoff performance, though, he stands a good chance of graduating to the Ranger roster. 

In addition to Lindberg, prospects Marek Hrivik, Mat Bodie, Dylan McIlrath and newly –acquired goaltender Magnus Hellberg have all been signed to new contracts, Hellberg to a two-year, two-way deal, McIlrath a one-year one-way, and the other two on one-year two-ways.  On the AHL side, the Wolf Pack has re-upped Shawn O’Donnell, whose seven major penalties were third-most on the 2014-15 Wolf Pack club behind McIlrath’s 13 and Nehring’s eight.

Ryan Bourque is under contract for the coming season, entering the second year of a two-year, two-way ticket, and Nick Tarnasky also has a year left on his two-year deal, but fellow veteran forward Joey Crabb (pictured), who was the Wolf Pack’s top goal-scorer, and third-leading point-getter, in the postseason with 6-4-10, remains an unrestricted free agent.  Also still unsigned are Tyler Brown and Chad Nehring, who both did some very nice work for the Pack this past year on callups from ECHL Greenville.

Steve Spinell has landed an AHL deal with Grand Rapids, and Dallas Jackson, who got into 44 games for Ken Gernander & Co. in 2014-15, signed with Hudiksvalls HC of Sweden’s Division 1, but goalies Jeff Malcolm and Jason Missiaen remain available.  Among depth players who spent most of last year in the ECHL, Josh Nicholls, Chris McCarthy, Sam Noreau and Michael St. Croix all have one year remaining on their respective Ranger contracts, and injury-plagued Michael Kantor, who has only been able to get into 33 total games between the Wolf Pack and Greenville in his first two pro years, also has one year left on his deal.

The Rangers, meanwhile, have nearly completed the business of getting all of their contractual ducks in a row, with the biggest triumph being the conclusion of a six-year deal with top centerman Derek Stepan.  Other restricted free agents getting new deals included J.T. Miller, Jesper Fast and Emerson Etem, leaving James Sheppard as the only unsigned member of the roster with which New York finished the playoffs.

Stepan’s cap hit more than doubled, from $3.075 million to $6.5 million, with his new pact, and the Rangers currently are within $400,000 or so of the 2015-16 salary cap of $71.4 million.  That is with 12 forwards, including Jayson Megna’s cap hit of $600,000, and eight defensemen, including McIlrath’s $600,000, plus goaltenders Henrik Lundqvist and Antti Raanta.  That relative lack of wiggle room continues to make it look like the big club might look to move a defenseman at some point before the start of the season and, very possibly, add some more Hartford-ticketed depth players with low NHL cap cost.  As of right now, the organization has 48 players under NHL contract, two under the limit of 50, and one of those 48 is goaltender Brandon Halverson, who would go back to the Ontario Hockey League unless he pulled a major surprise and won the Ranger backup job.

In case you missed it earlier in the summer, departures from last year’s Wolf Pack group of mainstays include Chris Bourque (free agent, to Washington), Danny Kristo (free agent, to St. Louis), Chris Mueller (free agent, to Anaheim), Conor Allen (free agent, to Nashville), Ryan Haggerty (traded to Chicago), Michael Kostka (free agent, to Ottawa), Carl Klingberg (KHL), Yann Danis (free agent, to New Jersey), Justin Vaive (free agent, to Islanders) and Ryan Potulny (Finland).

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