The other day, we looked at what the Rangers might do with Wade Redden, the disappointing defenseman whose cap hit can no longer be buried in the minor-leagues. It appeared that the most likely scenario involved the Rangers buying him out when they were allowed to this summer, and since they couldn’t risk him getting hurt while in the minors, telling him not to play this season. But here’s something we didn’t consider: They could just change the rules.
Nick Kypreos (in this series of tweets) and Larry Brooks (in his own long series of tweets) both report that the NHL and NHLPA have reached an agreement to give teams a compliance buyout window this week, in addition to the one planned for this summer. That means Redden — and likely Montreal's Scott Gomez, as well — could be bought out before the season begins and sign with a new team, rather than be forced to stay home to help their current organization's cap situation. Certain restrictions apply: The player must agree to the buyout, and he must be making at least $3 million. The cap hit remains on the books for this season only, and teams would take that cap hit even if the player signs with a new club. Brooks says as he understands it, the players bought out during this week’s window will be paid the full amount of their contract.
It’s a fair compromise: Teams would be taking the same cap hit they'd have otherwise taken this year, but the players’ union, naturally, doesn’t want even two of its players to be kept away from playing altogether because of cap issues. (The union had been reviewing whether teams were even within their rights to do such a thing.) With this new agreement, teams are still punished for having overpaid players they want to get rid of — it costs them the full value of the contract this year, and becomes dead space on the payroll for cap purposes — but the players aren’t kept off the ice.
These buyouts will be open to all teams, but Redden and Gomez are the most likely — if not the only — candidates to be impacted. And so considering both of those contracts were handed out by the same GM, this rule just has to be named for Glen Sather, right?