New York Rangers defenseman Wade Redden has two years remaining on his six-year, $39 million deal — a $6.5 million cap hit annually.
The problem, of course, is that Redden hasn’t played for the Rangers in two years.
Instead, he’s been banished to the AHL, where — under the previous collective bargaining agreement — New York was able to retain him while also getting his cap hit off the books.
But under the new CBA, the ol’ “stick ’em in Connecticut!” cap circumvention play is out. Gone. Done. Never coming back.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie explains the Rangers now have three options for Redden moving forward, none of which are very appealing:
1) Stick him in the AHL and wait
The Rangers could continue letting Redden play for Connecticut, getting a minor cap hit haircut in the process:
Tere’s a provision in the new CBA that doesn’t allow the hiding of NHL contracts in the minors, save the first $900,000.
[One plan] would be to send Redden to the AHL, absorb his $5 million-plus cap hit this season, which they have room for because teams can spend to $70M this season, and then use a compliance buyout this summer to erase the problem for next season.
The scary part here, of course, is if Redden gets hurt playing for the Whale. Teams can’t buy out injured players.
2) Trade him
The only way to eliminate the $6.5 million cap hit entirely would be to flip Redden to another club. That club, of course, would need to have both the available cap space and willingness to pay a guy that may go straight to the minors.
Since no team will likely offer this out of the goodness of its heart, it’s safe to assume the Rangers would have to pay a pretty penny just to get rid of Redden (with draft picks, or prospects.)
Would they want to do that with the compliance buyout just around the corner?
Note: The Rangers could, as has been pointed out in the comments section, try to move Redden by retaining a share of his salary/cap hit, one of the new wrinkles in the CBA. The Rangers could absorb up to 50 percent, but would be on the hook for two years.
3) Park him
The only other option for the Rangers is to take Redden’s cap hit this season but not play him. Not in New York. Not in the AHL. Not anywhere.
Put him in bubble wrap, cold storage and call it a year. Make sure his cheques show up on time and wait for the compliance buyout period this summer and cut all ties.
The NHLPA is expected to ratify the new CBA on Saturday and camps are set to open Sunday. The Rangers don’t have a ton of time to figure this out, but you can guess what the most likely option will be.