New York Post sportswriter Jay Greenberg recently looked ahead at the bleak future of the Rangers, suggesting their priority this summer should be either finding a quality center for Marian Gaborik or a consistent second line to help the Gaborik line shoulder the offensive burden.
Greenberg also suggested one way for the Blueshirts to free up cap space would be to demote fading veteran defenseman Wade Redden and his $6.5 million per season cap hit to the minors next season.
This isn’t the first time a New York-area pundit has suggested demoting Redden. There was speculation leading up to this year’s trade deadline they might consider that option if they could land some offensive depth, which never transpired.
The Rangers can certainly afford to bury Redden’s salary in the minors, but that doesn’t mean they’re keen to consider the possibility.
A buyout is another possibility, but it wouldn’t be cheap. As per capgeek.com, Redden’s actual salary is $6.5 million for each of the next two seasons and $5 million per season for the final two years. That translates into a buyout cap hit of just more than $1.9 million per season in the first two years, more than $3.4 million over the next two and back to $1.9 million for four more seasons after that.
It remains to be seen what route the Rangers go, but sooner or later they’ll have to get Redden’s salary off the books if they hope to bolster their offensive depth.
• Tampa Bay Lightning veteran left winger Martin St-Louis is showing no signs of slowing down as he enters his mid-30s.
Playing on the Lightning’s top line with superstar sophomore Steven Stamkos, St-Louis entered this week leading the club in assists (60) and points (87) and sat fifth overall in league scoring.
His current contract has one year remaining paying him $4 million (with a cap hit of $5.25 million) and given his consistency and teamwork with Stamkos, one has to believe the Bolts will open contract extension talks with St-Louis after July 1.
He’s been a consistent 80-plus point player over the past four seasons, so re-signing him might cost as much, if not more than, his current salary. Still, with less than $27 million committed to seven players for 2011-12, it shouldn’t be a problem for the Lightning to keep St-Louis.
The desire to retain St-Louis will likely keep the Vincent Lecavalier trade rumors alive and well in the off-season.
• The mid-season trades by Calgary Flames GM Darryl Sutter did little to bolster his club’s performance and with their playoff hopes fading, speculation has already turned toward possible off-season changes.
Sportsnet’s Mike Brophy observed that Sutter’s moves this season leave him little off-season wiggle room to improve the lineup, barring an overhaul of the core by moving team captain Jarome Iginla, goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff and/or defenseman Robyn Regehr.
Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun, meanwhile, suggested Sutter could be amongst the changes.
It’s possible Sutter gets the axe for the Flames’ declining performance this season, but ownership may also give him an opportunity to dig himself out of the hole he and the team currently finds itself in.
Should Sutter remain at his post this summer, he probably won’t consider moving Iginla, Kiprusoff or Regehr. Their no-movement clauses make those changes difficult to pull off, particularly if the players express a desire to remain in Calgary.
Their futures with the Flames, as well as those of GM Darryl Sutter and coach Brent Sutter, could be determined by the club’s performance next season.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays and Thursdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.