So both Jacob Trouba and Pavel Buchnevich filed for salary arbitration late last week and the question to ask is: At what point would the Rangers walk away for an arbitrator’s award? At the time of this being written, the Rangers projected salary cap space was $8,018,534 (according to CapFriendly.com). Of that 8 million, the Rangers will also need to sign Brendan Lemieux and Tony Deangelo who are also restricted free agents as well as add at least two more players to fill out the roster.
Look I am not going to pretend to play salary cap expert and figure out ways to pay for everyone. Nor will I try to figure out the roster at this point in time. This is about at what point would the Rangers walk away from any salary award. The smartest thing for the Rangers would be to avoid having to go into an arbitration hearing period. Realistically the worst thing the Rangers could do is be forced to make such a decision.
If I was Jacob Trouba I would be asking for as much money as possible. Why not because how exactly can the Rangers argue a lower salary at any hearing? When the arbitrator asks Trouba to defend what he is asking for, the first answer is going to be “Because they traded for me.” Trouba can say the Rangers gave up a first-round pick and Neil Pionk knowing that he was a restricted free agent.
What will the Rangers say? Well, he is injury prone (why did you trade for him then?), that his 50 points were a first (why did you trade for him then?), or that he is just 25 (see first two). Trouba knows that just by being traded to the Rangers that he became their best defenseman upon arrival. What do the Rangers say if Trouba is awarded more than 7 million dollars by the arbitrator? If you think for a second the Rangers will say “we think that is too much and will walk away from the award” then you are kidding yourself.
As for Buchnevich, in his case, there is no way Buchnevich deserves more than 2 million in any award. Sorry, the Rangers will have plenty of arguments to win an arbitration case against him. Start with how inconsistent Buchnevich can be, work your way down to how many times Buchnevich found himself in David Quinn’s doghouse and that despite a career high in goals he wound up with fewer points than in 2017-2018.
Buchnevich needs the Rangers more than they need him at this point in time. There are players lining up behind him who over the next year or two can and very likely pass him on the depth chart. How much Buchnevich counts against the salary cap could be the deciding factor as to whether he stays or goes.