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Two of Glen Sather’s biggest mistakes could be freed from their contracts by Saturday and thus, conceivably, continue their NHL careers.
Defenseman Wade Redden, whom Sather signed to a six-year, $39 million free-agent contract in 2008, and center Scott Gomez, whom Sather signed to a seven-year, $51.5 million deal in 2007, could both be bought out prior to opening night on Saturday according to a new ruling made yesterday.
Gomez was dealt by Sather three summers ago to Montreal in the Herschel Walker-like deal that, in effect, got the Rangers Ryan McDonagh, Brandon Prust and the cap space to sign Marian Gaborik.
Under the CBA that expired in September, teams could hide contracts like Redden’s and Gomez’s in the minors and, while still having to pay them, have the money come off the team’s salary cap. However, in the new CBA such shenanigans won’t be allowed.
Also, the new CBA will allow teams two “compliance buyouts” over the next two summers so teams can get in line with the new, lower salary caps. What immediately happened, especially in these cases, were that the Rangers and Montreal told Redden and Gomez, respectively, to stay home this season so they didn’t risk a hockey-related injury that would prevent either from being bought out next summer.
The NHLPA petitioned the NHL to allow compliance buyouts this season so that players can resume their careers.
So if any player is bought out by Saturday, he becomes an unrestricted free agent immediately – though the team that buys out the player will still pay him 100 percent of his salary and be charged with the cap hit this year. Therefore, is no real advantage to the team, but it does give the player a chance to play hockey again.
The Rangers cannot get Redden’s salary off the books this year no matter what, but they have room for it. Buying him out, now or at the end of the season, will help them get under the cap next season (when the cap drops from $70.2 million to $64.3 million, and when Chris Drury’s $1.67 million buyout hit comes off the payroll too). A team using the buyout by Saturday will have one compliance buyout left, to use after this season or next.
Redden has spent the last two seasons playing for the Rangers’ farm club in Hartford, his salary off their books.
REPLACING BRANDON PRUST: It’s never easy to replace a guy who can play important minutes, defensive roles, kill penalties … and lead the NHL in fights.
Rangers coach John Tortorella said it will “take a group” to fill the void left by Brandon Prust’s departure to Montreal as a free agent.
“Let’s give him his due,” Tortorella said. “Pruster played a very important role for our team, killing penalties, bouncing around on different lines – there’s a lot of things he did for the hockey team. Not one guy’s going to fill that. I like what I see of the new guys coming in here (Taylor Pyatt, Jeff Halpern, Arron Asham) and I believe we can. We lost a lot of people (Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Ruslan Fedotenko, John Mitchell and Prust) with the (Rick Nash) deal, with people signing. It happens to all clubs and we have to fill those certain needs when they’re gone.”
NOTES: Brad Richards missed his third straight day of training camp with the flu. “We want him here, Tortorella said. “Is it ideal that he misses these days? No. He’s getting better and hopefully will get on the ice quickly and jump right in with us.” … Tortorella, when asked if he would have to scale back the minutes logged by first defense pair Dan Girardi and McDonagh because of the condensed schedule, said, “No, we’re going to play the hell out of them. We are. We’re trying to win every game.”
Photo by Getty Images, above.