Compliance buyout rules changed today and that means two more UFAs by week's end.
As @ryanclassic on Twitter said, it took 3 days to create a change to the CBA that it took 119 days of lockout to create. Various sources are reporting that the NHL and NHLPA have agreed to change the compliance buyout rule to benefit Wade Redden and Scott Gomez.
Originally, buyouts had to wait until the summer, but as the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens told two badly-overpaid players not to bother even showing up for camp in preparation for a buyout (because they didn't want to risk getting those players hurt and making them unavailable to buy out of their deals), both sides met again today and agreed to open the buyout window until this Saturday with one small catch: if you buy out a player now, his cap hit for this season will stay on your books and won't be removed until next season (Also, you can only do one and only for a player with an AAV of $3M or higher).
While Scott Gomez isn't likely to land on the Red Wings' radar thanks to the team's abundance of centers, Wade Redden could very well become a reclamation target for Detroit.
Redden played 11 seasons with the Ottawa Senators before hitting the free agency jackpot in the summer of 2008. A cap jump of $6.4M brought the total amount of space to $56.7M (up from just $39M three years prior) and a big need for several teams to land big defensemen got Redden a 6-year $39M contract.
Of course, this happened two hours after Brian Campbell got his huge deal and four hours after Jeff Finger landed a good-sized overpay as well. It was also the same year that Brad Stuart signed his four-year $15M contract with the Red Wings.
Fast-forward a few years and Redden has positively become an anchor for the Rangers. Redden played for two seasons in New York and could not play up to the standard he met in Ottawa. As a result, he spent the last two seasons buried in the AHL to give the Rangers cap space to do whatever else they wanted.
That loophole was closed this winter, as the new CBA allows no more than $900K in salary cap relief for NHLers in the minors. The buyout provision gave teams an out, but not soon enough for New York. With all that said, Redden is about to find himself getting a goodbye check and becoming a UFA who is free to sign with whichever team will have him.
As one of the teams looking for defense, especially the kind of size and physical play that a guy like Brad Stuart brought the last four seasons, the Red Wings could take a look at adding Redden to their blue line as a depth signing. The problem is that nobody has any idea whether Redden can even play at an NHL level anymore. Redden put up 42 points in 70 games with the Hartford Wolf Pack/Connecticut Whale in 2010-11. Last season, as their captain, Redden put up 20 points and a -8 rating in 49 games with the team.
If he becomes a UFA, Redden is probably going to get a few offers to prove his worth at a decent price. He probably would have been in the NHL these last two years if it weren't for an albatross cap hit. A chance to prove himself at the NHL level again could go as well as Sheldon Souray's story last year, when he wrangled a $1.65M contract with Dallas into a respectable 21-point season which earned him a 3-year $11M contract in Anaheim.
He could also turn out to be a Mike Commodore reclamation project and find himself struggling to find an NHL job.
If the Wings did sign Redden, they would almost certainly have to either trade or waive Jakub Kindl to make roster room. That's perhaps too high a price to pay for an extended tryout on a guy. What do you say, do you pull the trigger on this?
[Update 01/17/2012 5:00 - Helene St. James at the Freep says that the Wings will not pursue Wade Redden, who should become an unrestricted free agent tomorrow, January 18th]
Redden, who has spent the past two seasons in the minors after being a disappointment with the New York Rangers, is a five-, six-, or seven-guy, and the Wings already like what they've got in that area -- or at least don't see Redden as an improvement. They'll continue to keep an eye open for a way to add a top-four defenseman.