|Gomez will count against the Canadiens' cap for this season no matter what. (Getty Images)|
Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet was the first to report that the NHL and union have reached an agreement for teams to exercise an amnesty buyout prior to the window opening this summer.
In the newly ratified CBA, the owners and players agreed to allow two amnesty buyouts for every team, beginning in the summer of 2013. That means two get-out-of-jail-free cards for GMs to escape burdensome contracts with no penalty against their salaray caps.
Immediately, Redden and Gomez were targeted to be bought out with their huge deals. So the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens told Redden and Gomez, respectively, to stay home this season to avoid injury with the intention of using one of those amnesty buyouts on them in the summer.
That led to a complaint from the NHLPA -- as sports laywer Eric Macramalla speculated could happen -- asking if there was something that could be done. Making Redden and Gomez sit the entire season at home wasn't ideal, even if they were going to be paid handsomely to do so.
That led to discussions to try to find some kind of compromise, and that's what they have done. According to Kypreos, here is how it will work:
With new agreement, 1st buyout window will start prior 2 season opener. 2nd one remains in summer. Cap hit stays 4 rest of this season only— Nick Kypreos (@RealKyper) January 15, 2013
So essentially they will get the buyout now, but these players will remain on the salary cap for the duration of this season, regardless of what happens. Take Gomez, for example. His monstrous salary-cap hit will stay with the Canadiens through this season just as it would have had he sat at home, but now he'll be free to find a job elsewhere. It's absolutely a win for the players.
Making teams wait to use the amnesty buyouts seemed necessary so as not to create a flux of free agents just before the season, but it put some players in really bad positions. A guy like Gomez still has some value in the NHL, just not at this previous contract.
But for the teams? Well, there's not much benefit at all. There are no breaks for these teams and really no incentive for them to buy out the players now as opposed to this summer -- other than to be nice. Now there is the potential that a bought-out player could hurt your team on the ice while continuing to count against your salary cap.
Keep in mind, this agreement is available to all teams, not just these two with their unfortunate situations. So if there were any GMs just itching to execute a buyout, they could do so now and be rid of the cap hit by next season.
The next question is that since both Gomez and Redden will very soon be unrestricted free agents, who will take a flyer on them? It's hard to believe there won't be any takers, particularly if teams can set their own prices.