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Scott Gomez, Wade Redden ready for buyouts as NHL alters rules for their benefit

Greg Wyshynski
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Those of you holding candlelight vigils to free Scott Gomez and Wade Redden from the shackles of the multi-million contracts they signed of their own free will, rejoice: The NHL and the NHLPA have agreed to allow “accelerated compliance buyouts” before the 2013 season openers, which could pave the way for their departure from the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers respectively.

Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet reports that teams will have a buyout window prior to Saturday’s opening day games, followed by a second one in the summer prior to the 2013-14 season.

The cap hit for the buyout would remain for this season only for teams issuing the buyout.

As Larry Brooks of the NY Post reports, the Rangers would be on the hook for the $5.6 million cap hit even if (OK, “when”) Redden signs with another team that may or may not be the New York Islanders (just a guess here ... but sorta makes sense, no?).

The compliance buyouts were collectively bargained into the new CBA during the lockout, allowing teams to get out from under problem contracts twice in the next year. As Chris Johnston of Sportsnet reported, allowing for a special exception for Redden wouldn’t have been in the union’s best interests:

As much as the union wanted to help Redden, it ultimately had to put the interests of many ahead of the interests of one member.

A fundamental belief among the NHLPA is that the more time for players to find work the better (hence the decision not to accept a league proposal which would have seen free agency moved from Canada Day to July 10 in this CBA), and having compliance buyouts introduced on the eve of six-day training camps would have been chaos for the players who saw their contracts terminated.

Both Redden and Gomez were sent home by their teams before training camp to avoid an injury which would, in theory, have prohibited the Rangers and Habs from buying them out next summer.

The NHLPA stepped in to review whether the Rangers could bench a healthy Redden from playing in the AHL. As the pressure built around this situation, the NHL and the NHLPA came to an agreement to expedite the buyouts, despite the “chaos” it could cause around the League.

Redden and Gomez are expected to be bought out; will anyone else?

Probably not. There's no benefit to the team buying out the player to do it now, rather than do it next summer when the teams wouldn't have the cap hit count and would pay the players 2/3rd of their contract. Unless the teams were concerned about injuries, which are what prevented the Rangers from buying out Chris Drury for a while as well.

(Boy, those Glen Sather contracts. How soon we forget.)

But hey, it'd be a nice favor to Gomez and Redden. And who doesn't like nice favors?

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