Another season in New Jersey is not going the way Brian Rolston would like it to. Last year, Rolston struggled terribly and now this year he’s been placed on waivers. With Rolston, the immediate thought is that he’s being waived in order to clear his monstrous salary from the books. Rolston’s cap hit this year and next year is $5.062 million and makes life difficult on the Devils with them being so tight to the cap. There’s a catch though as his contract is a 35+ deal, meaning that he signed it as he was 35 years-old or older and it stays on the salary cap regardless of what happens to him. Sending him to the minor leagues does no good.
So what’s the thinking here from Devils GM Lou Lamoriello? It’s possible that he’s thinking Rolston’s cap hit as it stands is too much for any team to bear, but if he brings him back on re-entry waivers a team might be willing to take him at half the cost. Any player claimed on re-entry waivers has the cost split between the team claiming him and the team putting him on waivers in the first place.
It’s a desperate move for Lamoriello to try and gain cap space in order to either move other players around or try to add help from the outside to try and get the Devils somehow back in the running for the playoffs. As it is, they’re the 14th place team in the Eastern Conference and a whopping 18 points out of eighth place. If nothing else, waiving Rolston could serve as a message to everyone that a job isn’t guaranteed so they’d better shape up or ship out.
For now, we’d like to think that Rolston’s future in New Jersey isn’t secure. He can still contribute to a team, just don’t bank on him being a 30-goal player anymore. He’s still got a big shot that’s useful on the power play and for all intents and purposes, he’s a third line player now. Paying $5 million for a third liner is absurd, but paying him $2.5 million to play that role makes a lot more business sense.