By Eric Bancker
As teams report to training camp this September there is one thing that is almost certain for the Rangers, Wade Redden and his $6.5 million cap hit will be banished to the minors as the Rangers are expected to waive the 13-year veteran.
Two years ago, Rangers general manager, Glen Sather, signed veteran defenseman Wade Redden to a 6-year/$39 million contract in hopes of adding some offense to the blue-line. This contract has proven, in my opinion, to be the worst contract handed out in the salary cap era, which started in 2005 after the lockout.
In the two years Redden has been in a Rangers uniform he has 40 points (five goals and 35 assists) in 156 games. Not really the kind of numbers you want a high-priced free agent to put up.
Redden had moderate success in his first year with the Rangers but he still wasn't winning over any fans. Redden had only three goals his first year on Broadway. He started off promising, scoring a goal in the Rangers second and third games but he then had a goal scoring drought that spanned from October 10th till February 25th.
A lot of people figured it was just taking him time to adjust to his new team and new city and that his second year would be more promising...that wasn't the case.
As he came into his second year with the team, Redden was already being booed on a nightly basis by Rangers faithful. I also strongly believe that he was one of the main reasons why during the Rangers home-opener this past season, that the team decided to come out as a group and not individually as they have done in years past. Redden would have been ripped apart by the fans on opening night and his confidence would be even lower than it already was.
Redden didn't fair any better his second year with the team as he had a career low in goals, assists, points, power-play goals, power-play assists, shots, and had the second worst shooting percentage of his career. He was benched by head coach John Tortorella on multiple occasions and really has lost his place in New York.
Now we have arrived at the point where free agency is underway and training camp is right around the corner. The Rangers have added new pieces to the team (Frolov, Biron, Boogaard, Eminger, and Zuccarello Aasen) The typical questions are staring the Rangers in the face, can this team score enough goals? Can the defense in front of Lundqvist be solid to give them a chance to win? But this off-season one question already seems to have been answered. What will happen to Wade Redden? It appears that once training camp opens up Redden will find himself in the AHL with the Rangers affiliate the Hartford Wolfpack.
Redden has been told that he will need to earn his roster spot. But with the below average hockey he has been playing for his high price tag means that he will be packing his bags. Now from a fans standpoint this is great news. He is no longer wanted on the team and his $6.5 million cap hit will be banished to the minors and the Rangers will have a ton of wiggle room financially.
But let's not look at this from a business standpoint but look at it just from the human aspect of the game. Redden is 33 years old, his contract expires in four years. If Redden is sent down to the minors then this spells the end of his career. This is a guy who was one of the top offensive defenseman in the NHL roughly five years ago. He hasn't lived up to any part of his contract but is that really his fault? Did anyone really think he was worth that much money? Did you think he was going to walk into Sather's office and say "Hey Glen, I don't feel as though I deserve $6.5 million a year could we talk about possibly giving me less money?"
When it comes down to it this contract is all Glen Sather's fault. He over-valued a rapidly declining defenseman and threw his checkbook at him. But Glen now must do what he has to do. He has to own up to his mistake and send Redden to the minors and end his career. Redden is a 13-year veteran who can still play at the NHL level but not at what he is getting paid for. I personally feel bad for the guy because he wasn't given a chance from day one to succeed as a member of this team. All I can hope for is that when Glen Sather does sit him down and tell him he is being sent down that he does it with respect. Wade deserves that much from a team that is ending his career for him.
Now there is a very interesting scenario that is popping up that could keep Redden on the NHL squad. The Rangers young star defenseman, Marc Staal, is still not signed with the team and it doesn't seem as though a contract is close to being done. Now lets say for all intents and purposes that when training camp opens that Staal isn't there. The Rangers will have a big gap in their defensive corps, giving Redden a chance to slip in and make a difference. Now Redden would need to be amazing in camp, which is unlikely to happen but there his hope for him. This is Redden's last chance to save his career, let's see what he does with that chance.