Garth Snow has put the New York Islanders within spitting distance of being allowed to play next season by acquiring Brian Rolston and his $5,062,500 from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for Trent Hunter. Rolston has one year remaining on his inflated deal, and puts the Isles within $5,949,834 of the salary cap floor (all figures via CapGeek). Hunter, who’s an apple of the Corsi set’s eye when he’s healthy, has two years at $2 million per left on his current deal.
Rolston, who turns 39 next season, is three seasons removed from three straight 30+ goal campaigns. The addition of Rolston is quite clearly a part of an effort for the Isles to reach the floor, which they shouldn’t have much trouble achieving with another addition (say Alexei Yashin or one of the decent defensemen still on the market), a new deal for Blake Comeau, and one or two prospects cracking the roster. Rolston also becomes the Islanders’ highest paid player for the 2010-11 season. Hunter should make for a decent addition in New Jersey, although his health has been a question mark in each of the last three seasons, given his penchant for playing both sides of the puck rather effectively.
This trade bumps the Islanders up a notch in the race to the cap floor, sitting a tick above the Nashville Predators. The Predators should see their own gap shrink with the eventual Shea Weber deal.
Shipping out a very serviceable veteran like Hunter, who just turned 31, for an aging body like Rolston seems like a one-sided play – but these are the pains of a struggling franchise trying to reach the cap floor.
By moving Rolston, the task of re-signing Zach Parise to a long-term deal in advance of his August 3rd arbitration hearing becomes all the more plausible.