During my hockey-watching lifetime, I've usually pitied the Islanders. They've not won a playoff round since I started seriously the following the game in the winter of 1995. Yet it's hard not to feel like they are somewhat kindred spirits - a team with a proud tradition of winning and a proud tradition of hating the Rangers. Even through the innumerable fiascoes they've suffered - John Spano, Mike Milbury, Alexei Yashin, Kirk Muller, Rick DiPietro, Garth Snow, the list goes on - it's hard not to feel sorry for Isles fans. This season more so, as it feels like someone has mistakenly replaced the Devils' season with an Islanders one - now those of us newer fans know how it feels.
All of this is a long preamble to a post about the dire straits the Islanders are in. They stink even worse than the Devils, somehow. Their owner has given up on finding them an adequate arena in the Long Island area. All they are looking to do is to save money. Brian Rolston provides them a way to save quite a bit next season.
If the Islanders acquire Brian Rolston on waivers, they will end up paying approximately 3.3 million dollars to him this season. This doesn't sound like a good way to save money. However, the Islanders still have some assets lying around that they may want to trade. Rolston's presence enables them to trade these players without hitting the salary floor. Right now, according to capgeek, the Islanders are at 43.4M in total salary. While it's unclear to me exactly how the salary floor operates, the floor is thought to be around 43M. They have some desirable UFA players, including James Wisniewski, Matt Moulson, and Dwayne Roloson. These players may not want to be on Long Island next season, so GM Garth Snow should be looking to rent them out. However, he may struggle to find matching contracts to come back to Long Island, as he must stay above the salary floor.
Surely at this moment the astute reader is nodding along while thinking, 'But wait a second Triumph44, there's lots of horrendous contracts around the league that the Islanders could pick up if they asked for them. Why would they take on this particular contract?'
The Islanders currently have 11 players under contract for next season totaling $24M. The salary cap floor is expected to be around $45M. That's $21M in salaries that they will have to find lying around. There's a few players they have signed to entry level deals who can eat up some space. However, they will be hard pressed to hit that floor without signing some outrageous contracts, and it's not like there are many players who want to sign with the Islanders. This is where Rolston comes in - because he's 35+, his cap hit counts regardless of whether he's playing for the Islanders or not! The Islanders can buy his contract out over the summer. They would save $1.68 million dollars with this buyout, because Rolston's full cap hit would still count while the Islanders would only have to pay Rolston 2/3rds of his original salary.
It's a bit of a pipe dream. Still, it might make fiscal sense. Hopefully Garth Snow is thinking about this issue along them lines.