During the lockout, NHL pundits often pointed to the NFL as having a salary cap system that works. The difference between the NFL and NHL is that NFL contracts are not guaranteed. If you sign an NFL player to a five year deal, and they stink in the first year, they can be cut. The NFL team is only on the hook for any guaranteed/bonus money that was already paid out. This counts against the NFL cap. While it can be significant money, it does not come near the NHL's rule of a two-thirds buyout.
Which leads to the Senators, and their inactivity over the draft weekend. Did they want to move some big contracts? Of course, but it is not that easy.
Take Martin Gerber for example. If Bryan Murray could, he would shred Gerber's contract today and tell him to be on his merry way. When a GM would do that to his own player, every other GM knows Gerber has no value to Murray, so they will not offer him anything for him. GM's are offering back their own bad contracts. If Murray would have received an offer of even a conditional draft pick over the weekend for Gerber, he would/should have traded him.
Redden is a different story for two reasons. One, he has a no-trade clause. Secondly, he has significant value on the trade market. The problem with Redden is that if the Senators elect to keep him past this season, they will not be able to keep all three of Fisher, Heatley, and Spezza. It is not Redden's talent, but that last year's performance was not worthy of the elite salary he received.
I think Redden just had an off year. He had a good season by NHL standards (where the standard salary is 1.7 million, or approximately 1/4 of what Redden makes), but was slowed by both injury and having to play with Andrej Meszaros, who had an awful year. If I were Murray, I would try and negotiate an extension at a lower rate for Redden. If Redden were not amenable to that, I would then attempt to trade him for a couple of good young players who have salary controls for at least a few seasons going forward. A renegotiation would technically shred Redden's current contract.
It's not that I don't like these players, but the money they make doesn't make sense on a team that will be pushing the cap to keep its top players for years to come.
As for other contracts, Schaefer, Saprykin (offer sheet), and maybe Corvo would all find their contracts in those long, thin strands of paper you find at the bottom of a shredder.
At least, that is what would happen if this were the NFL.