Last night, the Anaheim Ducks re-signed crushing defenseman James Wisniewski to the tune of $3.25 million.¬† The 26 year-old defenseman was traded shortly afterwards to the New York Islanders for a conditional third round pick.¬† The conditions are that the Islanders have until June 1 to decide if they want to give up their pick or another pick they acquired previously.¬† Anaheim is still trying to re-sign elite winger Bobby Ryan and, unable to come to an agreement on salary, dumped Wisniewski‚Äôs contract to make room.¬† Losing only a third round pick is a steal for Islanders general manager Garth Snow and highlights why the division rival may only need to make a few more calls to be dangerous next season: the salary cap.
There are currently five teams over the salary cap and a good number are dangerously close, including the Flyers.¬† The Islanders, meanwhile, have $21 million left in cap space and haven‚Äôt reached the cap floor yet. This off-season, they have predominantly re-signed their line-up for cheap and added further depth to their defense with the signings of Mark Eaton and Milan Jurcina.¬† ¬†As a result, the Islanders are in a position to capitalize on teams that have royally mismanaged their rosters.¬† The Boston Bruins have been shopping goaltender Tim Thomas and top six center Marc Savard for awhile, both of which would be improvements to the line-up that would not garner much in return (similar to the Gagne trade).
The Islanders have been in re-build status for awhile, and they have spent enough years at the bottom drafting top players like John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, and recent draft Nino Niederreiter that will develop into marquis players.¬† They may not be Stanley Cup contenders yet, but adding top talent for next to nothing will help balance their team.¬† If the Flyers sleepwalk against the Orange and Blue like they did last year, the results could be dangerous. Heck, Wisniewski‚Äôs recklessness alone is dangerous enough.