2008-2009 was supposed to be Patrick Rismiller's 3rd full season in the National Hockey League. He played 176 regular season and 30 playoff games with San Jose from 2006-2008. While not a gifted goal scorer, Rissmiller filled the grinder role for Ron Wilson's Sharks and adapted well to a defensive system that was also quite capable of moving the puck quickly through the neutral zone. Rangers people noticed this, thought he could fit in with Tom Renney's new style, and inked him to a one-way deal that will pay him $1 million a year through 2010-2011.
Rismiller had a decent preseason but it was clear that contributing to a Rangers team deep with forwards would be difficult. He started the season on the rotating healthy scratch platoon of Dan Fritsche, Petr Prucha, and Lori Korpikoski, and found himself active in just two games for the Blueshirts. After a dreadful performance against Dallas, he was waived (and cleared) with the intention to be sent down to Hartford - and rid $1 million from the Rangers' salary cap number.
Only he never went to Hartford. For the last 9 days, Rissmiller has been in the NHL's equivalent of limbo; he practices with and is paid by the Rangers even though they've made it expressively clear that they don't want him around anymore.
The Rangers could send him down to Hartford where he'd take a prominent role. However, that would likely spell a full season of AHL hockey for Rismiller. He'd have to pass through re-entry waivers if recalled and a team could claim him (and hold the Rangers on the cap hook) for half his salary. With almost $34.7 million tied up in five players through 2011-2012, Glen Sather can't afford any excess salary on the books. This is bad news for Rissmiller, who is certainly capable of holding an NHL job elsewhere in the league.
Obviously, a trade is in the best interests of all parties involved; except of course, the team on the other end. There aren't many clubs out there that want to commit almost $3 million of salary over the next three seasons to a grinding forward that has only scored 21 goals and 31 assists in his 210 game career.
If he can't complete a trade, Sather can keep Rissmiller up and ensure the Rangers have a little extra depth at forward - or send him down. But with the demotion of Lauri Korpikoski ($1 million cap hit) and the fact that there is now little to no shot that the Rangers will sign Brendan Shanahan, there isn't much of a rush to clear $1 million off the cap. I imagine that something will eventually be done, but it's not a pressing issue at this point.
Of course there's still Sundin, but that's a discussion for another time..