As the NHL and NHLPA finalize the new CBA it seems a virtual certainty that an amnesty buyout – the ability to buyout a player's contract with no cap penalty – will be part of it. In fact, it is likely that each team will have two at their disposal for the next two summers. So while teams are going to have to wait until the offseason to utilize their amnesty buyout(s), it's worth taking a look at what the Rangers will be thinking once June or July rolls around.
I shouldn't even have to discuss Wade Redden, as he is as obvious a choice as there is in the entire NHL. With still a year remaining on Redden's contract at $6.5 million after this shortened season, it would be absolutely confounding were Sather to not buyout Redden's final year. The Rangers didn't even bother inviting him to the NHL training camp last August and opted to play defensemen such as Jeff Woywitka, Stu Bickel, and Brendan Bell ahead of him.
Which leaves us with amnesty buyout number two. Kevin previously covered the speculated idea of using it on Marian Gaborik. Gaborik would still have a year remaining on his contract with a cap hit of $7.5 Million. I agree with Kevin that this is an absurd concept. Gaborik is coming off of shoulder surgery but all infromation indicates that he has made a full recovery. This previous season he scored 41 goals; good for third in the NHL. I don't know what more you could expect from him, so Gaborik would have to show us a dramatic and shocking decline in ability these coming months for management to even consider him as a buyout option, I would think.
So what other options are there? To be honest there are not a whole lot to choose from, which is somewhat of a revalation for the Glen Sather era. If there is one player who sticks out as a potential casualty it is Mike Rupp. Rupp is a veteran, a Stanley Cup Winner, and by all accounts a good teammate. That being said, last season was not a personal success by any means. With 22 goals combined the previous two seasons with the Penguins, Mike Rupp was viewed by the Rangers as a guy who could add not only physicality but also some scoring from the bottom-six. Four goals and one assist is not what the Rangers had in mind. Aside from the underwhelming scoring, Rupp was plagued by a knee injury most of the season which limited his physicality. Rupp will be 33 at the end of the season and so his body breaking down completely has to be a concern. The Rangers have him signed for the 2013-2014 season at $1.5 Million, and if he has another underwhelming, injury riddled spell this time around then his future with the team is in jeopardy.
In an ironic twist of fate that only Rangers fans could understand and appreciate, after close to a decade of absolutely brutal contracts being handed out to players – Gomez, Drury, Brashear, Kasparaitis, Holik, and Rissmiller to name some – the NHL finally decided to institute amnesty buyouts at a time when the New York Rangers least needed them. Sure, Redden is an easy decision, but he only has a year remaining on his agonizing contract. And nobody else sticks out as a clear casualty. But this is a good thing. It's a sign of an improved roster and a less erratic, knee-jerk version of Glen Sather. Let's hope everyone does his job these next two seasons and the second amnesty buyout falls into the abyss unused.
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