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Montreal sends Chris Higgins to the Rangers for Scott Gomez @NHLdotcom

MONTREAL - Montreal Canadiens GM Bob Gainey got a jump on free agency.

He acquired forward Scott Gomez from the New York Rangers in exchange for Chris Higgins on Tuesday.

The deal also sees prospects Tom Pyatt and Mike Busto head to Montreal with Ryan McDonagh and Pavel Valentenko off to the Rangers in return.

Gainey will be using some of the salary cap room he's about to gain with several departing free agents - Gomez is due to earn US$33.5-million over the remaining five years of his current deal.

The 29-year-old is coming off his least productive season since before the NHL lockout, having put up 58 points (16-42) in 77 games for the Rangers.

Higgins is set to become a restricted free agent on Wednesday.

He earned $1.9 million last season, when he had just 12 goals and 23 points - the lowest output of his NHL career.

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