Methods of consideration
There are two ways to go about using this buyout. The first is strictly from a financial standpoint. Who saves the team the most money long term? This approach will help the New York Rangers afford the pending raises of future stars such as Kaapo Kakko, Adam Fox, and Filip Chytil.
The second outlook is based on the question of who’s removal clears the best path for incoming rookies? The Blueshirts have a ton of prospects on the verge of making a jump to the big leagues. This buyout could open a crucial roster spot for a rookie as early as next season. Here are the top three candidates to go, if there is an amnesty departure.
Brendan Smith is the first buyout candidate to consider. Smith has had a rough go with the Blueshirts since being awarded a generous four-year, $17.4M extension in 2017. He has missed too much time over the last three seasons due to injury. Additionally, Smith got off a slow start in 2018 after coming to camp out of shape.
A significant factor in terminating his contract is that Smith has been a regular healthy scratch among the defensemen. A big indicator as to where his level of play has been. Smith has been used more often as a fourth-line winger this season than on the blueline.
Not only does he fit the bill for a buyout based on his play, but there aren’t many fourth-line forwards in the league making upwards of four million a season. Getting rid of his hefty $4.3M cap hit would undoubtedly ease the salary crunch. Buying Smith out kills two birds with one stone for the Blueshirts, and do so without losing any key leadership figures.