The New Jersey Devils were hoping that someone would relieve half of their debts (and salary cap responsibilities) regarding aging – and expensive – winger Brian Rolston, but he cleared re-entry waivers today. Devils GM Lou Lamoriello will need to continue to try to find a trade or explore other avenues to get rid of Rolston’s ugly salary cap blemish.
Being that he’s 37 years old, the NHL’s cap rules prohibit the Devils from simply making his cap hit vanish into the minors like the Rangers did with younger albatross Wade Redden.
Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger surmises that teams passed on claiming Rolston mainly because his contract won’t expire until after the 2011-2012 season. It’s easier to fathom a team taking him on for one low-risk year rather than the rest of this season and all of next, after all.
Keep in mind the fact that it’s doubtful that Rolston is even worth the approximate $2.53 million salary/cap hit he would cost a team claiming him on waivers. His howling slap shot can be a real asset on a power play and – at least at one point in his career – his speed made him a very useful player. But looking at his production (two goals and three assists for five points and an ugly -12 rating this season; 32 and 37 points in his other two campaigns in NJ), it’s hard to say he would be worth the risk when teams can sign shorter, cheaper Marek Svatos-type deals instead.
Chere writes that Lamoriello will still look to trade him, but if people balked at his discount rate, how will they be able to stomach the full $5 million+ version? It’s not as if the Devils possess the cap space to trade Rolston for an even bigger deal, so maybe the trade scenario is wishful thinking on Lamoriello’s part.
Then again, it seems like wishful thinking is what got Lamoriello and the Devils in this mess in the first place.