Montreal Canadiens forward Scott Gomez and New York Rangers defenseman Wade Redden are now one step closer to hitting the free-agent market, according to TSN's Bob McKenzie, and there are a few teams that should try to sign these veterans when they become available.
Wade Redden and Scott Gomez clear unconditional waivers. Can now be bought out.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) January 17, 2013
Once they are bought out, each player will become a UFA, and in a 48-game season, teams are going to need more depth than usual because injuries could be a problem in a shortened schedule that lasts just 99 days.
As a result of the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) following the NHL lockout, teams were given two buyouts that would help give them salary-cap relief.
These buyouts were originally supposed to be used after this season, but because of an agreement made between the league and the NHLPA earlier this week, teams can now use one of their buyouts prior to the 2012-13 season, according to TSN's Pierre LeBrun.
Let's look at a few teams that should pursue Redden and Gomez after they are bought out.
The Oilers, perhaps more than any team in the NHL, need a veteran defenseman that can add depth and experience to the blue line.
Redden wasn't in the AHL because he was a terrible defenseman; he just didn't perform at the level expected of a player with a $6.5 million salary cap hit on an NHL team.
He would be able to give new head coach Ralph Krueger some penalty-killing ability and an intelligent defensive presence on the blue line.
With young goaltender Devan Dubnyk expected to start the season between the pipes, the Oilers need some veteran defensemen on the roster with playoff experience like Redden. He has played in 94 career playoff games, including a run to the 2007 Stanley Cup Final with the Ottawa Senators.
Redden could also mentor some of the team's younger players because he is a good locker room guy. Edmonton has absolutely nothing to lose by taking a chance on Redden.
Injuries to Philip Larsen and Aaron Rome could force the Dallas Stars to look at the free-agent market for a veteran defenseman.
Which team should Redden sign with?
The Stars didn't have much talent or depth on their blue line before the lockout, and if injuries are going to be a problem for head coach Glen Gulutzan, the team should make a move for a defenseman as soon as possible.
Dallas had the worst power play last season, and the lack of a top-tier offensive defenseman was one reason for the team's struggles with the man advantage.
Redden won't be a top offensive defemseman at this stage of his career, but he does move the puck well and could add some much-needed playmaking to the Stars power play.
It's hard to imagine the Stars making the playoffs in the Western Conference this season if they don't make any additions to their blue line.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs certainly need more depth on the blue line, and Redden would give Toronto another veteran presence on the ice and a leader in the locker room.
Redden is still an NHL-caliber defenseman, and the Leafs would certainly benefit from his ability to play on the penalty-killing unit seeing as how the team finished 28th in this area last season.
Toronto probably isn't going to make the playoffs this year, so there's no reason to waste a year of top prospect Morgan Rielly's entry-level contract when the team can sign Redden and let Rielly develop more in the WHL.
There's also no guarantee that young star Jake Gardiner will return to the ice and play like he did last season after recovering from a concussion over the last month.
The Leafs would not have to commit a lot of years or money to sign Redden, so the team might as well take a shot on him since there is little risk involved.
New Jersey Devils
Gomez's most productive seasons in the NHL happened when he was a forward for the New Jersey Devils.
His career began in New Jersey, where spent seven years with the team. He also averaged 64.3 points per season in his Devils career.
It's clear that Gomez is not a 60-point player anymore, but given his familiarity with the Devils organization, New Jersey would be a good fit for him.
Some of the players that were playing for the Devils when Gomez was there are still with the team, including Martin Brodeur and Patrik Elias.
The Devils could certainly use some more depth at center since Adam Henrique and Jacob Josefson are battling injuries right now. Gomez would be a good option for the third- and fourth-line center spots in New Jersey.
The Coyotes have some depth issues at center, and someone with the speed and puck-handling ability that Gomez has would be a nice upgrade to the team's top-nine forward group.
Which team should Gomez sign with?
Phoenix doesn't have a lot of offensive skill at center, so Gomez is certainly a player that general manager Don Maloney should consider signing, especially since his team doesn't have a huge budget to work with.
The Coyotes lack playmaking and scoring talent on their second, third and fourth lines. Only three Coyotes players scored 50 or more points last season (Ray Whitney, Shane Doan and Radim Vrbata), and two of them have returned for this year (Doan and Vrbata).
Taking a chance on Gomez for very little money would be well worth the risk for Phoenix. The Coyotes aren't going to make another deep playoff run this season if they don't add some more offense before the playoffs.
The Canucks still need center depth with Ryan Kesler unable to start the season on the second line, and general manager Mike Gillis should consider signing Gomez to give his lineup some more offensive skill.
Here's what the Canucks depth chart looks like at center.
Sedin is an elite player, but the other three centers listed above cannot be relied on to be productive offensively on a consistent basis.
Relying on the first line to carry a team is not a smart decision, especially when the Northwest Division is going to be tougher to win this year than it has been over the last few seasons.
With the recent news that David Booth will be out for a month or more with an injury (via Renaud Lavoie of RDS), the Canucks have an even greater need for more offensive depth.
Gillis could trade goaltender Roberto Luongo to acquire a forward(s), but even if that happens, Gomez would still be a good fit for Vancouver, which is the NHL team closest to his hometown of Anchorage (Alaska).