Wade Redden of the New York Rangers plays against the...

Wade Redden of the New York Rangers plays against the Atlanta Thrashers at Philips Arena. (Jan. 7, 2010) Credit: Getty Images

The Wade Redden era, during which his contract became a financial albatross for the Rangers, is coming to a close.

Thanks to a rule change, the 35-year-old defenseman, who was signed to a six-year, $39-million contract in July 2008 by general manager Glen Sather as a free agent from Ottawa, is expected to be waived before Thursday and bought out before Saturday's season opener.

After two seasons with the Rangers, the former All-Star's play declined, and Redden's $6.5-million yearly salary was "buried" while he played in the AHL and exempt from the salary cap. At the time, he was the highest-paid player in the minors.

But that exemption was removed in the new collective-bargaining agreement, so the Rangers told him to stay home. The plan was to pay Redden to sit and reluctantly absorb the cap hit, and also prevent him from being hurt, because an injury would prohibit them from buying out the remaining two years of his deal in June. (All teams were allowed to execute two buyouts, this June or June 2014.)

The possibility of filing a grievance against the club for not permitting him to practice was a possibility, and after discussions that involved Redden's agent, Don Meehan, the NHL and the NHLPA, the situation changed Tuesday.

The first buyout window was accelerated to this week, which also affects Canadiens center Scott Gomez, a former Ranger in the same situation as Redden.

The Rangers still will absorb a $5.6-million cap hit this season, and two-thirds of Redden's 2013-14 cap hit will be spread over the next two seasons. Redden will become an unrestricted free agent, and he and Gomez, 33, should draw interest.

In Ottawa, Redden's play began to slip in his final seasons, and he turned down trades to Edmonton and San Jose before Sather signed him. His overall performance continued to decline; he had only five goals and 35 assists for the Rangers in 156 games, and was assigned to Hartford in September 2010 to create room under the cap. He was captain of the Connecticut Whale last year, and younger players appreciated his help as a mentor.

Notes & quotes: Brad Richards (flu) missed his third day of camp and won't be on ice Wednesday. Players will work out off ice and watch tape after having a short practice yesterday. John Tortorella said he thinks Richards will be able to travel to Boston on Friday . . . Anton Stralman switched from No. 32 to 6, which he wore in Sweden . . . The Rangers, with 22 players in camp, could add one from the AHL. The 23-man roster must be completed by 3 p.m. Friday.

The Dolan family owns controlling interests in the Rangers, Madison Square Garden and Cablevision. Cablevision owns Newsday.

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