The End Of An Error

Scott Gomez and Wade Redden both came to the New York Rangers as high-priced free agents and underwhelmed on Broadway. Glen Sather found ways to erase his mistakes, trading one for a top defensive prospect who has flourished and exiling the other to the AHL.

The parameters of the new collective bargaining agreement gave them something else in common. Both were told by their respective organizations they would be sitting out the season.  Had they been hurt playing, they could not be bought out this coming offseason. Neither the Rangers nor the Montreal Canadiens could afford to have those cap hits on the books in 2013-14.

The NHL and the NHLPA came up with a compromise this week: accelerated compliance buyouts. The agreement allows a team to put a player making an average of at least $3 million annually on waivers prior to the start of this season. Should he clear,  he can be bought out, with the salary as a cap hit only for this season. It would count as one of the two compliance buyouts teams can exercise in 2013 and 2014. The player would become an unrestricted free agent, able to seek employment elsewhere.

As expected, Redden and Gomez were placed on waivers Wednesday. They cleared Thursday and were bought out by their respective teams, closing the book on two of Sather’s worst moves since the introduction of the salary cap.

It’s a fair compromise. No one forced the Rangers to hand over so much money to either of these guys, but they did. In the case of Redden, they’ll have to incur the financial penalty of keeping his $5.6 million cap hit on the books this season. Fortunately the Rangers are in a position to absorb it without it being detrimental to the on-ice product.

Rangers fans will remember Redden for being an overpaid underachiever; they might remember him for being inexplicably bewildered when John Tortorella benched him. He did his penance for signing that contract (and to be fair, who wouldn’t have taken that money and run?) and took his demotion like a pro, so much so he was named captain of the Connecticut Whale for the 2011-12 season. There was little doubt that a team would take a flyer on him at a reduced cost, and TSN’s Bob McKenzie is reporting this afternoon that Redden has agreed in principle to a 1-year, $800,000.00 deal with the St. Louis Blues.

There’s no denying the Rangers caught a huge break this time around. With an 8-year minimum on the new CBA and compliance buyouts history after 2014, other teams that suffer “buyer’s remorse” down the line on a contract will have to live with the consequences.


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About the Author: Likes: Hockey, the New York Rangers, King Henrik, singing the Rangers goal song, "The Save", the sound skates make against ice, heckling Marty Brodeur. Dislikes: 3-point games, front-office mismanagement, Denis Potvin, overpriced arena beer. Interested? Follow me on Twitter: @CC_927

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