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What If: Redden Gets Demoted?

With the Rangers seemingly out of the playoffs, thoughts are turning to the future, and how to make the Rangers a better team for both next season and beyond. Unfortunately, the Rangers are in a very bad spot with the salary cap, due in large part to the contract given to Wade Redden. This is not a post to bash Redden, as he would be a serviceable sixth defenseman if signed to the right price. I am sure he is a nice guy. The problem is that General Manager Glen Sather signed him to one of the most absurd contracts in recent memory. The contract, with another four years and $23 million ($6.5 million cap hit) remaining, is simply untradeable. Since NHL contracts are guaranteed, the Rangers are left with few options to rid themselves of this contract and alleviate their current salary cap situation.

Most fans realize that Redden won’t be traded, and that the only way the Rangers will get rid of the albatross contract is to either demote him or buy him out. Buying him out leaves the Rangers with a smaller cap hit (anywhere from $2 million to $4 million, depending on the season), but that cap hit is spread out for the next eight seasons. To make a comparison, the Rangers buying out Wade Redden would be extremely similar to the Islanders buying out Alexei Yashin. For those wondering, the Islanders are still paying Yashin, and will continue to do so for the next six seasons.

That leaves the Rangers with one viable option, and that is sending Redden to the minors. Waiving him will have some immediate positives, including clearing the full $6.5 million on the cap, opening up a spot on the blue line for some youth, or opening up a spot for a different, more effective free agent. What many don’t realize is that there are some negatives to waiving Redden.

The first, and probably the biggest issue, is that although James Dolan can afford to pay Redden to play in Hartford for $6.5 million, he in all likelihood does not want to do so. Hockey is still a business, and paying a player $6.5 million to play in Hartford would really get under his skin. Ownership being unwilling to pay Redden to play for Hartford is the single biggest obstacle that would prevent this from happening.

This situation is not the same situation as when Darius Kasparitis was sent to Hartford. The one big difference now is that MSG (of which the Rangers are a subsidiary) has now been spun off. The $3 million that the Rangers were eating in Kaspar’s salary was easily absorbed by Cablevision’s profits. Now that MSG has been spun off, the $6.5 million from Wade Redden has a much, much larger impact on the bottom line. MSG was spun off from Cablevision because it was dragging down Cablevision’s stock price. If MSG was operating at that little profit while with Cablevision, imagine how little it would be when they are eating $6.5 million in Hartford.

Aside from ownership, there are still other issues to ponder. Of the 18 skaters that dress for an AHL game, 13 of these spots must be reserved for players that have played under 260 professional (NHL, AHL, ECHL) games. The AHL calls this the “developmental rule”. Currently, the Wolfpack have eight players that hit this threshold (Anders Eriksson, Ilkka Heikkinen [via international hockey], Donald Brashear, P.A. Parenteau, Derek Couture, Steve Valiquette, Brent Henley, Corey Locke). In addition, the following four players will reach that threshold next year: Brodie Dupont, Jared Nightingale, Dane Byers, Ryan Garlock. That brings the total to 12 players hitting this threshold for next year. Of course, not all these players will be back next year, as most have expiring contracts, and not all will be re-signed. It’s still a good number of “professional” players sitting in Hartford.

If he is sent to Hartford, the next question to ponder is if Redden would actually show up for his assignment to Hartford. Redden is within his right to refuse the assignment and not show up, in which case the Rangers can suspend him. This situation would be identical to the Sergei Kostitsyn situation in Montreal to start the season. I am unsure if the Rangers still pay Redden if he is suspended (I would assume they do not), but his salary would be cleared.

The Rangers are facing a very big salary cap issue heading into the future. This problem can be alleviated by getting rid of Wade Redden’s contract by sending him to the minors. We can debate the positives and negatives as much as we want, but in the end the largest determining factor will be the financial implications of MSG’s profits. Since they are no longer a part of Cablevision, the loss suffered by waiving Redden would affect the bottom line more than it would have in the past. In the end, hockey is a business.

19 Responses to “What If: Redden Gets Demoted?”

  1. jurgenno88 says:

    It’d be nice to see it happen thats for sure. I do think that its a huge part of the future; finding some way of ‘getting rid of red’.
    In addition I think in 12 months, Rosizval is moveable as he’ll have just 1 year at 5m left, -he’s not bad, just not great. All of a sudden in 12 months we’d have 12m of cap space. Granted, they could waste it again but it would certainly allow for some offense to be brought in to supplement what i think will be a good young (and cheap) rear guard.

    • Dave says:

      I think Rozsival is moveable now, because he is only owed $7 million over these next two seasons, although the cap hit is large. Some teams operate on an owner-based cap, much like the Predators.

      I don’t think they send Redden to the AHL though, it just costs too much money.

  2. […] of that contract, is not going to come close to helping the Rangers. So what can they do about it? Dave from the Blue Seat Blogs recently wrote a great piece discussing the possibility of sending Redden to the […]

  3. Mikeeyyyyy says:

    Convert him to a forward. See how it works out the rest of the season. He still has a nice shot, and does have decent puckhandling skills. How would having him play with Prospal and Gaborik look…

    • Dave says:

      Thinking outside the box, I like it. I would prefer they convert Gilroy to forward, and just shoot Redden in the knee and put him in LTIR though lol.

  4. Brian says:

    If they are concerned about the 6.5 mil then send him down but don’t spend up to the cap ceiling when the salary is deleted from the cap – they will still benefit by giving one of the kids a shot.

    • Dave says:

      This is a good point. Will Sather be able to avoid spending money? Especially when someone like Volchenkov, a stay at home crease clearer is available?

      • jurgenno88 says:

        cap hit dependant, Volchenkov could really help this team. Finally it’d be a free agent signing to fit a purpose not fitting in a player for the (brand) name. Signing for the right reasons is almost as important as how much you spend.

  5. jurgenno88 says:

    …and i’d love it if Roszival WAS moveable this off season, not sure i think he is though. OR if he is, we might have to take on a NOT so great contract in return whereras with 1 year left the return could even be, dare i say it, decent.

    • Dave says:

      I think we’ve learned that Sather can pull off any trades we think are unimaginable (see: Gomez, Scott; Kotalik, Alice). I bring up a team like Nashville because they have a lot of NHL cap room, but not a lot of owner-cap room. Rozsival only makes $7 million over the next two seasons.

  6. Bettman's Nightmare says:

    Shoot, let’s just buy him out so Sather has that ugly little reminder to never do it again.

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  9. dbmaven says:

    The year before the lockout and subsequent start of the salary cap era, the NYR had the 2nd highest player expense number in the entire league – almost $80mm. They can remain under that threshold by sending both Rozsival and Redden to HFD and continuing to pay their contracted salaries (not that I think they’re going to send both down) – Rozsival still has some value, and I could even tolerate another (final) year of his play if he managed to play all of next year the way he has since mid-January.

    The bottom line is that the Rangers, as a standalone entity, would still be profitable even if they’re paying Redden to be in HFD (in other words, paying the league limit of 56.8mm plus 6.5 to Redden for a total of 63.3).

    As for the “development rule” in the AHL – most of those “professionals” will not be there next season, or anywhere in the Rangers organization. One or two might remain, still plenty of room for Mr. Redden.

    The bottom line is that they can afford it – if they want to. Therein lies the ultimate question. Does Dolan want to?

    Yes – Hockey is a business. Would it be worth dumping Redden in Hartford if it meant a decent probability of making it into the 2nd round of the playoffs – and 5 to 8 additional sellouts of MSG (at playoff, not regular season, ticket prices) – plus all of the take from the concessions?

    I could sell it to him on a pure $$ and cents basis.

    • Dave says:

      When the team salary was around $80, MSG was still a part of Cablevision, so operating at the loss could be absorbed by the profits of Cablevision.

      I simply do not know enough about the MSG Corporation and their profits to determine if MSG, not the Dolans, can afford to do that. We know that James Dolan can do it, but the question is, can MSG the corporation?

      • dbmaven says:

        Without knowing anything about MSG Corp’s financials (which we won’t for another quarter or two when 10Qs get released publicly) – the Rangers, if they were a stand-alone “company” by themselves can afford it. Just go to Forbes and look at the available info.

        That is my point – and that’s how I could/would sell it to him.

        Do you realize that using the Garden’s 18k capacity, and an average seat generating $80, each additional game generates almost 1.5mm?? That’s not even counting concessions. Considering that many seats are > $80 for playoffs – you could guess that the real number is over $2mm in revenue…..

  10. rangerfan1000 says:

    Here’s the deal. Redden sucks. Demoting him to Hartford, Redden still gets paid however now we can put another player in that spot and maybe make the playoffs. Then MSG has playoff revenue.

    The same thing is happening to the Mets and Ollie Perez. If the player sucks, you just have to cut bait and move on. It doesnt matter how much you pay him. You have to admit the mistake and move on.