The day fans have counted down for the last two years has finally happened– the New York Rangers have placed defenseman Wade Redden on waivers. The move had been wholeheartedly expected this summer, since the Rangers are both strapped for cash and loaded with budding young defenseman. But there were also many doubts, as people did not think Glen Sather would admit to a mistake in signing Redden by waiving him, or if Jim Dolan would allow it, since Redden is due to earn $23 million over the next four years, for what would have been an annual cap hit of $6.5 million.
This move was strictly a numbers game, as Redden’s play was never really that terrible to warrant a waiving. Had he earned around $3 million, there would be no complaints. Two seasons ago, he was brought in to be a desperately needed powerplay quarterback and steady offensive-defenseman, but with his play already declining in Ottawa, the one-time marquee defenseman was never able to even come near some of the great years he had for the Senators, one of which included 17 goals, and another, 40 assists.
In two seasons with the Rangers, he put up a total of five goals and 35 assists for an even 40 points in 156 games. His defensive play was average, and he was never really a liability, but with that contract, and more physical players like Ryan McDonaugh and Michael Sauer trying to crack the lineup, it was a move that just had to be made.
Part of me does want to feel bad for Redden, though. It was not his fault he was given the contract that he had, and he and his wife just had a child the other night. He knew his chances of making the Rangers were slim to none, but now he must find a job elsewhere. Will it be Hartford? I don’t see a player like him reporting to the minors where other players are in the learning stages of their career, so Europe may be an option. Either way, he will still make his money and is set for life.
This move really makes me happy, not just because an immense contract is cleared off the books, but because the Rangers for once are backing up their bark with their bite. Every year we hear the same mantra, that the kids will get a shot and the vets will take a hike– every player will earn his spot. For the first time in a long time, the Rangers sent a high-priced veteran packing, opening the door for McDonaugh, or cheap veterans such as Garnet Exelby and Alexei Semenov.
Today is a great day for the New York Rangers, one that sees the franchise take a giant step forward, and not a cataclysmic leap backward.