All true - except a team like the Rangers can take that $5 million / year player and pay him to play in the minors (as long as he's not 35 and on a multi year contract) without any affect on the NHL payroll. For example, right now, Kasparaitis doesn't count against the Rangers' cap #s because he's playing in Hartford. Only if another team claims a player on recall waivers does his current team get charged anything - that's half of his salary for the remainder of the contract.
Also, a team can put a player on the L/T Injury List once the player has been so diagnosed by the league and misses a certain # of games and the team is then not required to reactivate him until the team is ready to do so even if the player is medically cleared to play (see Richard Matvichuk and the Devils). I know the Rangers can afford to pay players for not playing or playing in the minors - can the Predators? the Oilers? etc.?
If so, what exactly was the point of the lockout?
Number of players currently playing in the minors on 1-way contracts: 21
Number making $1 million or more: 2 (Dan McGillis, Darius Kasparaitis) Had Ozolinsh not been injured, he would have been the 22nd (and 3rd over $1 million).
# by team
Anaheim - 2 (Caron, Moran)
Atlanta - 2 (Brathwaite, Delmore)
Boston - 1 (Dempsey)
Columbus - 1 (Balastik)
Colorado - 1 (Laaksonen)
Los Angeles - 2 (LaBarbera, Murray)
Minnesota - 1 (Weinhandl)
New Jersey - 3 (Fahey, Marshall, McGillis)
NY Rangers - 2 (Kasparaitis, Martin Richter)
Philadelphia - 4 (Baumgartner, Cullen, Dimitrakos, Kane)
Phoenix - 1 (Rheaume)
Toronto - 1 (Nash)
The point? If it was really that easy just to bury guys on 1-way contracts in the minors as you suggest, why aren't teams who can clearly afford to do this using it more?
Answer: because teams realize it's a last-resort option. Doing it over and over at the drop of a hat creates a goodwill problem with the players - which can be a serious problem in the summer when you want to go fill holes on the roster, and will cause players to request no-movement clauses to keep from getting shipped down (creating even more problems).
Your problem is that the CBA allows this stuff - so blame the owners (yes, even the small-market ones) for allowing this to take place.
And you're partially correct on LTIR - players can't just be assigned once they miss 10 games and 24 days; there's other things have have to happen before it can be triggered. Between kdb209 and myself, we've covered this 117 times this year alone - I'm not doing it for a 118th time.