The fine print. It’s that stuff on the bottom of things you sign, the little stuff that you didn’t originally see, that actually has a huge impact on whatever you just threw your name on top of.
For instance. A couple of months ago I bought a fridge from an appliance chain. The fridge was scheduled to be delivered on a Friday between 12-8, the drivers never came. When they finally did deliver the fridge (two days late), it started leaking from the bottom after a day of use. The company told me they couldn’t replace or fix the fridge for a week, so to deal with it. I then told them I wanted to return the fridge and that I would never purchase another appliance from them again. Except I couldn’t. The fine print clearly said "[The company] will not accept any refunds or returns for products. Damaged or non-working appliances will be repaired or replaced but cannot be returned."
That was a very true story – and I’m refusing to reveal the company by name because I blame the manager of the local shop, not the chain itself. Although, to be fair, after a fair amount of complaints they did take the fridge and give us back our money, but the point remains the same. Sometimes the fine print can throw seemingly stable situations into chaos. And for the New York Rangers, that might be the case.
While the two sides have yet to agree on a new deal -- and information has leaked that the NHLPA isn't overly thrilled with the proposal, but don't panic yet, the real telling moment will come with what the players offer back -- there are two clauses (read: fine print) that might throw the Rangers into some chaos if they’re not negotiated out of the deal. Let’s go over them here:
Note: The NHL website gave a full transcript of their offer to the NHLPA. You can see it here.
1) "Money paid to Players on NHL SPCs (one-ways and two-ways) in another professional league will not be counted against the Players' Share, but all dollars paid in excess of $105,000 will be counted against the NHL Club's Averaged Club Salary for the period during which such Player is being paid under his SPC while playing in another professional league."
In other words, the "Wade Redden Rule." You read that clause correctly; Redden (and his $6.5-million cap hit) would count against the Rangers, even if he stays in the AHL. That throws a major wrench in the Rangers’ cap situation – which isn’t dire right now, but would get there with an extra $6.5-million against the cap. Redden could still be a bottom-pair defenseman, but not at that cap hit. And with the Rangers’ defensive corps the way they are right now, there’s not much of a chance he even makes the team.
So the Rangers would either need to trade Redden (good luck with that) or pray that some type of amnesty clause is negotiated into the new CBA. Otherwise, Glen Sather might have some work to do. We'll have more on this as we know more.
To be clear, there is a thought the NHLPA might try to negotiate an amnesty clause into the proposal, allowing a team to remove a player or contract from the books without penalty (much like what the NBA did), but that remains to be seen.
2) "All years of existing SPCs with terms in excess of five (5) years will be accounted for and charged against a team's Cap (at full AAV) regardless of whether or where the Player is playing. In the event any such contract is traded during its term, the related Cap charge will travel with the Player, but only for the year(s) in which the Player remains active and is being paid under his NHL SPC. If, at some subsequent point in time the Player retires or ceases to play and/or receive pay under his NHL SPC, the Cap charge will automatically revert (at full AAV) to the Club that initially entered into the contract for the balance of its term."
This is going to be a major problem for a few teams down the line. You think the Minnesota Wild are going to be happy shelling out $7-million cap hits to a 40-year-old Zach Parise and Ryan Suter? Yeah, didn’t think so. For the Rangers, only one player falls into this category: Brad Richards. Technically, Rick Nash falls under this rule as well, but he’ll be 34 when his contract expires, so it’s not like the Rangers will be paying a 41-year-old $7.8-million.
But Richards does pose a small problem. He will be 40 when his contract expires, and his $6.66-million cap hit will stay on the cap (under the clause) for the entire duration of the contract. That contract happens to expire in 2020. I doubt Richards signed this deal with the intention of retiring around 37, but the last three years of that contract might become an issue. Again, this has a lot more to do with how much Richards declines as he gets older (sometimes playmakers can still be effective late in their career), but we obviously won’t know more on that for a long time.
Anyway, those are two of the clauses that impact the Rangers. What do you guys think they should do?