Michael Traikos of the National Post reports that demoting Jeff Finger was not just a business decision. It was because, as Ron Wilson points out, there are seven defencemen ahead of him on the depth chart.
Damien Cox thinks the demotion of Jeff Finger is a signal to the rest of the league that the Leafs have cap space to sell.Cox further elaborates that the cap space the Leafs have is a shade above $4 million. Cox sees this as a sign that the Leafs will collect some bad contracts.
Michael Traikos of the National Post says that Ron Wilson said "we have seven guys better than him now, and that's what it really came down to. We're not going to carry eight forwards. We don't even want to carry two extra forwards.
My belief is that it is a combination of things. Although I believe that even if Finger's contract was negligible they would demote him because his bad luck (injury) caused him to become the lowest defenceman on the depth chart. However I think the fact that they cleared $3.5 million in cap space helps the Leafs as they have a lot more breathing room. As for the bad contracts idea, I think the Leafs will only collect such contracts if they expire at the end of the year because they already have Finger. His cap hit still counts in the summer. Also some nice draft picks would have to come back in the trade.
Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News reports that the uncertainty surrounding the Stars ownership situation can force them to shop Brad Richards in the middle of the season. However they are not taking bad contracts back, and if they are in a playoff position by the trade deadline he expects them to keep him much like Florida did with Jay Bouwmeester.
Larry Brooks of the New York Post said it is an open secret that the Rangers covet Richards.
This is an interesting conundrum. I think Nieuwendyk will do everything in his power to keep Richards. Keep in mind that there is absolutely no way Richards gets $7.8 million in the open market but he is due for a big payday. As for taking bad contracts, there is no need. This is a premier rental player and should be traded for a return that Kovalchuk got the Thrashers. As for keeping him they need to sign him to an extension or let him go by the trade deadline. I don't think it helps to go for it in the short term if he does not want to stay. Plus it would get rid of a locker room distraction for the cup run as the negotiations or tension of him not wanting to stay could be a problem. As for the Rangers I don't know how many expensive contracts they want. This would be a bad deal as Redden's contract will count in the offseason causing some serious headaches in the summer to sign players.