Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Does Rising Salary Cap Floor Make Wade Redden Trade Possible?

With yesterday’s reporting that the NHL salary cap for the 2011-12 season could rise to $64 million dollars much of the focus was on what it means to the Rangers immediate cap space to keep their restricted free agents and chase Brad Richards this summer.  The most intriguing thing about the cap announcement might be the increase in the cap floor to $48 million from the previous $43.4 million during the 2010-11 season. 

The reason that the rise in the cap floor is so interesting as there are a few teams out there that have tremendous amounts of cap room and not a lot of guys to sign that will make big dollars.  Various teams fit into this kind of situation, but two of the most obvious are the Florida Panthers who have hardly any payroll committed for next season, $18.3 million, and the New York Islanders who have payroll checking in at $36.8 million but have already 17 players under contract.

Both of these teams will add salary when they bring up high draft picks who have high incentives on their entry level deals.  Beyond that however neither team is known for attracting free agents to their club because of bad teams and ownership that has been unwilling to spend more than what is absolutely necessary.  The options on the table for them would be to overpay free agents so they can reach the salary cap floor, which they can afford, or become a de facto clearing house for bad contracts that other teams are looking to unload. 

Those factors lead to thoughts that were unthinkable in that the Rangers might have a way to rid themselves of Wade Redden by trading him to one of these teams that needs to add to their cap figures.  The Rangers obviously would get nothing of value in return for Redden and might have to sweeten the pot with a pick or prospect to get another team to take on the salary.  As maligned as Redden was for his play with the Rangers during his first two seasons on Broadway, he would still be an NHL defender if his salary were half of the $6.5 million he makes. 

With the work that Redden did in Hartford mentoring the Rangers defensive prospects, a young team in search of some leadership and teaching skills could have interest in dealing for him to help their young players as well as hit the cap floor.  If you are a rebuilding team like Florida who can obtain more assets to the rebuild (pick(s), prospect) and the veteran leadership to mentor the young players just for taking his salary to get in compliance with the floor of the cap, you might just do it.

Yes, it is still crazy to think Wade Redden could actually get dealt, but the financial requirements for teams to have payroll at $48 million makes the idea a little less impossible to believe.  Rangers’ General Manager Glen Sather has worked his trade magic before, which only adds to the hope that he could do it again with Redden.  Players like Mike Komisarek or Brian Campbell would be more likely to fit the bill of overpaid player to pump the cap floor that can contribute to more on the ice than Redden can, but more than since the day he signed the six-year, $39 million deal with the Rangers there is hope that the rising cap floor could force someone to take him on.