Hartnett: Don’t Expect Rangers To Blink First In DeAngelo, Lemieux Discussions

Sean Hartnett
August 30, 2019 - 1:49 pm
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Only 13 days stand between Friday and the start of Rangers training camp, yet two promising Blueshirts remain unsigned.

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Restricted free agents Tony DeAngelo and Brendan Lemieux received one-year qualifying offers of $874,125 on June 25. For the duo to arrive in time for physical evaluations on Sept. 12, either the Rangers or the players’ representatives will have to budge.

Don’t expect the Rangers to blink first. The Blueshirts’ brass holds the power cards and history shows that young players typically come around when the front office stands firm.

Back in the summer of 2015, forward J.T. Miller accepted a one-year qualifying offer worth $874,000 fairly swiftly by comparison on July 15. Last July, Boo Nieves and Steven Fogarty accepted one-year qualifying offers worth $708,750 apiece.

Lemieux is represented by his father, four-time Stanley Cup champion Claude, and DeAngelo is represented by Pat Brisson of Creative Artists Agency. Both players earned $832,500 last season. Lemieux recorded six points in 19 games and provided a needed measure of physicality after arriving from Winnipeg on Feb. 25. DeAngelo set career highs in assists (26), points (30) and power play assists (10) last season.

According to Cap Friendly, the Rangers possess just over $1 million in cap room – though they would gain roughly an additional million in space if Brendan Smith were to be assigned to AHL Hartford. At the moment, the Rangers do not need to make any sudden moves to sign both DeAngelo and Lemieux. The Blueshirts are allowed to exceed the cap temporarily – but must submit a cap-compliant roster ahead of opening night. The Rangers open the 2019-20 regular season at home against the Winnipeg Jets on Oct. 3.

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Given the Rangers’ cap situation and their unsuccessful attempts to clear additional salary before buying out Kevin Shattenkirk, there isn’t a lot of wiggle room. The qualifying offer extended to DeAngelo and Smith is likely the club’s best offers. While these players might want larger salaries and extra term, it would be surprising if the Rangers caved.

Though Claude Lemieux was one of the toughest men to play the sport and Brisson is one of the most powerful agents in all of sports, I don’t expect either to procure any additional dough for their clients.

It’s probably in the best interest of DeAngelo and Lemieux to sign the deals on the table and arrive at camp on time to ensure their best performances in the upcoming season. Both players are arbitration-eligible next summer and forward strides in their respective careers would allow them leverage to negotiate lucrative, long-term deals to their liking in a year’s time.

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