At the end of the season last year, it became public knowledge that coach John Tortorella warned Wade Redden that he will need to fight for his position on the roster, and nothing will be guaranteed based on the size of his contract. The Rangers moves this offseason, specifically the signing of Alexander Frolov and acquisition of Todd White, have proven that they plan on removing some salary from the roster. Currently, the Rangers sit about $1.5 million over the $59.4 million salary cap, with Marc Staal still waiting to be signed. Although Staal’s case for a large salary was hurt by Erik Johnson signing at under market value, it is safe to assume that Staal will at least want to be compensated more than Dan Girardi and his $3.325 million salary.
If a nice, round number for Staal is set at $4 million, which is $500,000 under where I initially projected his market value, then that leaves the Rangers with very little options for clearing salary cap space. Prior to the Todd White acquisition, the cap space for the Staal deal could have been made by assigning both Mats Zuccarello-Aasen and Matt Gilroy to Hartford. However, with White on the roster, those moves are simply not enough anymore. In short, Wade Redden’s salary is all but a lock to sent to Hartford.
But what if Redden shows up to camp and plays well? Larry Brooks addressed this in a recent article:
And what if Redden, who knows his NHL career is on the line here, who knows that if he is waived through the league in September he will never get back, what if Redden plays assertive, sharp hockey beginning with the first scrimmage and maintains his level? What if Redden outplays just about every defenseman in camp?
Then the Rangers will be in a state of severe stress. Then, incorporating that $6.5 million onto the season cap would mean that Sather would have to slash the roster in order to leave enough space to match on Staal, who at that point would become a very inviting target for an offer sheet.
What if Redden is one of the best defensemen in camp? Brooks hits the nail on the head, the Rangers would then be hard pressed to find the salary cap space to keep him on the roster, while trying to sign Staal. While I have been on record saying that the Rangers will not be waiving Redden, I am starting to believe that there is no other way to get the team under the salary cap ceiling without waiving him. There is simply no way of putting a 20 man (or 22, depending on the need for a 13th forward and 7th defenseman) roster together without clearing Redden’s contract. It is simply a matter of business now. That will come as a cause for celebration for
many all Ranger fans. But again, what if Redden is one of the best players in camp? What if he clearly outplays Steve Eminger? Are people going to miss the 2010 training camp Redden? Are people going to boo Eminger because they want Redden? It’s a long shot, but hey, anything’s possible nowadays.