Well here is an interesting development. According to many sources including TSN, the NHL seems to have back-peddled on the issue of buy-outs. Originally, teams were not to be able to buy out players until after this lock-out shortened season. IN the case of Scott Gomez, this led the Habs to send him back to Alaska – to miss a full season rather than risk getting hurt in game action which would render him ineligible for the buy out. Both Gomez and Wade Redden faced this situation – “victims” of their enormous salaries respectively.
The NHL has decided to change course however. Rather than allow these players to be forced to sit out an entire season (no matter how short it is), they have allowed buy-outs in this situation for this season. Montreal will still be on the hook for his salary, but Gomez (and Redden) will be allowed to seek opportunities elsewhere. Really, this makes sense – and is ultimately an admission from the NHL that the idea of allowing the buy-outs, but not until next year created the problem in the first place.
So now, NHL teams will be allowed 1 buy out this season, in which the player’s contract will come off of the books after the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Nothing changes for teams like Montreal who were going to pay Gomez to stay home anyway. It does allow these players the opportunity to salvage their careers without having to sit out for critically long periods of time.It is unlikely that many other teams leverage this opportunity – as they will still need to carry the cap hit on the player for this season, but at the very least, players who find themselves in this tough position can try to build some value elsewhere.