The NHL and the players' association have reached an agreement to allow teams to use an accelerated compliance buyout on players such as Montreal Canadiens center Scott Gomez and New York Rangers defenseman Wade Redden, a source confirmed to ESPNNewYork.com Tuesday.
Although this modified rule was conceived with the adverse effects of Gomez and Redden in mind, all clubs are allowed to exercise this option with one player, who must be placed on waivers by Thursday, a source said.
These players cannot become unrestricted free agents until they are placed on, and subsequently clear, waivers.
The buyouts come without any significant benefit to teams such as the Canadiens and Rangers, at least this year. Both teams will pay the player 100 percent of the salary owed this year while carrying the full cap charge for the 2013 season, sources told ESPNNewYork.com.
The hit will come off the cap this summer, and the buyout will revert to two-thirds spread out for the remaining years, or one-third the salary if applicable (players 26 and under).
The buyout payments, which only can be used on a player with an annual average value of $3 million or more, also will count against the players' share in each year the payments are made, a source told ESPN.com.
The alteration to the already agreed-upon transition rules was made after the NHLPA began reviewing both Gomez's and Redden's situations.
The Rangers planned on prohibiting Redden from playing with the AHL's Connecticut Whale, where he has played since the 2010-11 season after failing to live up to a six-year, $39 million NHL contract. The Rangers feared he could suffer an injury while playing in the minors; a team cannot buy out an injured player.
The situation was similar to that of Gomez's. Earlier this week, the Canadiens sent Gomez home for the remainder of the season and told him he would not be playing for the team.
The 33-year-old center scored just two goals in 38 games for Montreal last season, and the Canadiens planned to buy out the last year of his seven-year, $52.5 million deal.
The union wanted to challenge the legality of such an arrangement and whether that defied the spirit of the collective bargaining agreement.
"Effectively suspending a player without cause (even with pay) provided the players with leverage in this case. Legally questionable move," sports labor law expert Eric Macramella said via email. "For that reason, they are now being paid the entirety of their salaries for this year -- plus they can now look for employment. Good deal for Wade and Scott."
In Redden's case, the Rangers will pay him 100 percent of the salary owed for this year while incurring his full cap hit minus the money, approximately $900,000, saved by assigning him to Connecticut.
The only tangible benefit in the Rangers' case is that Redden's contract will come off the 50-contract limit for the team's reserve list; the team is currently at 48, but will have only 47 once the buyout is complete.
When the CBA was ratified last week, each team was allowed two compliance buyouts, although they were not to be used until this offseason and next. If a team chooses to use an accelerated compliance buyout now, that will count against the two allotted in the CBA.