So Darius Kasparitis shows up at camp some 20 pounds lighter and ready to blaze a comeback trail to New York. That would be great news if it weren't for that little thing called the salary cap! With almost no room left under the all important cap the Rangers can ill afford to retain Kaspar and his nearly $3 million annual salary. So what's a team to do? Trade him? Send him to Hartford?
OPTION #1: TRADE HIM:
The easiest thing for Slats to do would be to trade Kaspar. Move him for whatever the team could get. However, this option is probably unlikely: Kaspar missed all of last season. He reportedly came to camp out of shape which apparently had something to do with personal issues he was dealing with at the time. Given his age and his salary, it's unlikely an NHL club would be willing to take a risk on him. In today's day and age, $3m is too much money to spend on an old d-man who missed a season due to personal problems.
OPTION #2: SEND HIM TO HARTFORD:
Many observers are predicting that this scenario is likely to materialize. I'm not so sure! After struggling to read through the relevant parts of the C.B.A. (which is no easy task!) it appears as though section 50.9(g)(ii) sets forth that if a player like Kaspar is sent to the minors he must first clear waivers. Any NHL club may then claim him off of waivers. The claiming club would only be responsible for 1/2 of his salary while the Rangers would be responsible for the other 1/2 (and, of course, the 1/2 that the Rangers would be responsible for would count against the teams cap charge this season).
At almost $3m per season, Kaspar's probably not worth the risk to many NHL clubs. However, at just under $1.5m per season, Kaspar may very well be worth it. Let's not forget that Kaspar is in the final year of his contract. Therefore, a claiming club would only be taking a short term and relatively "cheap" risk.
Then there's the Oiler$ factor: Krazy Kevin Lowe targeted Dustin Penner in Anaheim in part because he knew the Ducks had cap issues. If the Ducks matched the offer sheet, Lowe would have successfully financially handcuffed one of his rivals. If the Ducks failed to match (which is what actually happened) the Oiler$ would have successfully obtained their desired player. A no lose situation for The Krazy One. Guess what folks, the Rangers have cap issues of their own. They passed on Peca because they felt that the $1-1.5m he would have cost was not worth the risk. Would anyone be shocked to see a rival club like the Icelanders claim Kaspar just to stick it to the Rangers? How about the Devils who are surely still feeling the sting from the Scott Gomez defection. A rival GM with cap room could certainly see the Kaspar situation as a no lose situation: if Kaspar rebounds he's well worth the $1.5m for just one season, if he doesn't rebound...well....it was just $1.5m for one season a worthwhile investment considering that it contributed to the hated Ranger$' cap concerns.
Surely, Slats & Co. are aware of this possibility. That's why it wouldn't surprise me at all to see Malik or Mara get traded if Kaspar looks ready to rejoin the big club.
**UPDATE** Thanks to dimanyr for pointing out that the 50% cap charge would only apply if a team claimed Kaspar off of re-entry waivers (i.e. if the Rangers tried recalling kaspar from Hartford to the big club). I e-mailed John Dellapina to ask him to clarify this point and, as usual, John kindly responded almost immediately. According to John, the Rangers would only be on the hook for 1/2 of Kaspar's salary if he was claimed off of re-entry waivers. Sorry for the confusion and thanks to dimanyr and John Dellapina (Rangers' beat writer for the NY Daily News. Check out the link to John's blog in my blogroll!).