The Washington Capitals have significant salary cap issues. They need to get Karl Alzner under contract, but currently sit over the regular season salary cap and have very little wiggle room under the summer cap. They need to shed salary, and they need to do it fast. With the acquisition of Troy Brouwer, the signing of Joel Ward, and the re-signing of Brooks Laich, Alex Semin and his $6.7 million cap hit all of a sudden looks like a spare part. A talented spare part, but a spare part nonetheless.
The Caps may not have a desire to get rid of him, but the salary cap dictates that they must listen to options, specifically options that don’t involve much salary coming back. The Rangers will have about $3 million of extra cap space to work with once they re-sign Brian Boyle, Ryan Callahan, and Brandon Dubinsky, which does give them some wiggle room to get a trade done.
Assuming Erik Christensen is swapped with a veteran defenseman around the same salary ($925,000), and the Rangers spend $9.5 million to sign their RFAs, they will have about $3.6 million of cap space to work with. Running the numbers for both teams (via CapGeek), a trade involving the Caps and the Rangers where only Semin and Wojtek Wolski are the players under contract swapping teams works for both teams*. Naturally, the Rangers will have to include more to land Semin, but the numbers work out surprisingly well for both teams.
*-The numbers work, but it puts the Rangers right up at the cap (in my scenario, they are $200k over, but I’d assume that can be dealt with).
What kind of package lands Semin from a Caps team in desperate need to get under the cap? Since the Caps are over the cap, they will likely accept a deal for less than Semin’s worth, much like the way the Predators had to trade Cody Franson to dump Matt Lombardi’s contract. Assume it would take Wolski, a good defensive prospect, and a draft pick or two. The Rangers are not going to be willing to part with either Dylan McIlrath,Tim Erixon, or Michael Del Zotto, so assume this would be along the lines of Pavel Valentenko or Tomas Kundratek. The pick would likely be a 2nd round pick, as the Rangers are generally unwilling to deal first round picks.
Do I think this is a likely scenario? No, I do not. However, I would be shocked if Glen Sather isn’t kicking the tires on this one, as a line of Semin-Brad Richards-Marian Gaborik would be lethal. Or, to balance things out, a top two lines of Dubinsky-Richards-Gaborik and Semin-Artem Anisimov-Callahan would be lethal and balanced. An acquisition of Semin makes a statement that the Rangers are going for it, and they are going for it now. The more likely scenario is that the Caps deal a defenseman, but they may have to look into dealing Semin instead/as well.