Now that the CBA has been ratified by NHL owners, the New York Rangers have to decide how to proceed with Wade Redden.
In the old CBA, it wasn't too difficult to figure out. Because a player could be "buried" in the minors and not count against the team's NHL salary cap, sending Redden to the AHL farm team in Hartford was simple and easy.
Out of sight, out of mind, off the salary cap.
But there's a provision in the new CBA that doesn't allow the hiding of NHL contracts in the minors, save the first $900,000. So Redden, with a cap hit of $6.5 million in each of this season and next, means the Rangers are now faced with using valuable cap space on a player who is not remotely part of coach John Tortorella's plans.
So now what?
The Rangers actually have three options but probably only one that makes sense.
It would be nice for the Rangers to entirely get rid of Redden's cap hit this season and next but what's behind Door No. 1 isn't an attractive option. That is, give up an asset or assets (draft picks and/or prospects) as inducements to get another team with lots of cap space to take Redden in a trade.
The Rangers won't like that because they don't want to deplete any future considerations on what amounts to a housekeeping matter for them.
Door No. 2 would be to send Redden to the AHL, absorb his $5 million-plus cap hit this season, which they have room for because teams can spend to $70M this season, and then use a compliance buyout this summer to erase the problem for next season. Compliance buyouts do not count against the salary cap.
But that route is fraught with peril. If Redden were to get hurt in the AHL this season and the injury carried over to the summer, an injured player cannot be bought out. Were that to happen, the Rangers could get saddled with Redden's full $6.5M cap hit next season and under no circumstances can they allow that to occur. Next year's cap shrinks to $64.3M and it would be a disaster if the Rangers had to account for Redden's $5M+ instead of having no cap hit on a compliance buyout.
Which bring us to Door No. 3.
The only other option for the Rangers is to take Redden's cap hit this season but not play him. Not in New York. Not in the AHL. Not anywhere.
Put him in bubble wrap, cold storage and call it a year. Make sure his cheques show up on time and wait for the compliance buyout period this summer and cut all ties.
The Rangers are still reviewing the new CBA but sometime before training camps open on Sunday they'll have to come to terms with what's behind one of the three doors.
It would seem obvious which door they'll choose.
I'm glad that they finally did something about NY and other teams burying contracts in the minors. The Redden contract mistake will affect NY is some negative way this season, certainly. Good.
I wonder if they'd be able to trade him though, even if they wanted to. Tough pill to swallow for any team.