For those of you who don’t remember, Wade Redden is still technically a New York Ranger. Redden hasn’t seen the ice on Broadway in over two years after being unceremoniously relocated to the Ranger’s American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Connecticut Whale.
Redden became the first in a long line of high-priced underachievers who saw their NHL careers come to an abrupt close when general managers around the league such as the Rangers’ Glen Sather found out they could bury their mistakes in the minor leagues so that their contracts wouldn’t count against the salary cap. Redden led the way for the likes of Sheldon Souray and Michael Nylander, amongst others.
Nonetheless, the former NHL All Star took it all in stride and made the best out of riding the bus with the kids in the minor leagues. After all, Redden’s wife had just given birth to a child and Redden had moved his family into the New York area and didn’t want to uproot his new family during such a pivotal point of their lives. Let’s face it, there were millions of other reasons Redden may have decided to make the best of it, 39 million reasons to be exact. If he hadn’t made the best of it, he would’ve been walking away from a contract that is still scheduled to pay him $5 million both this season and next, and that’s after racking up more than $6 million per year the previous two years after arriving in Hartford.
Redden, 35, was a positive influence and a huge help to the development of the young group of up and comers in Connecticut. Redden led the way for the Whale with 42 points in 70 games played and 6 points in 6 playoff games during 2010-2011, before dipping to 20 points in only 49 games played all of last season.
Now Redden finds himself in a position where he is still technically signed to an NHL contract and thus, he’s dealing with the lockout like every other member of the NHLPA. The Rangers still had the option of sending Redden down to the AHL, but with Redden suffering in the lockout along with everybody else, the Rangers brass may be a little relieved that they don’t have to pay Redden a dime during the duration of the lockout. Redden, the captain of the Whale, always has the option of signing to another AHL team during the duration of the NHL Lockout, but by doing so he’d be putting himself into a precarious position should the NHL eventually resume play. If Redden is injured and is deemed unfit to play, the Rangers do not legally have to pay Redden this year.
What’s next for the 35 year old? In a recent interview with ESPN, Redden hinted at an NHL comeback stating “I don’t know, I guess we’ll see, but I’m 35 now and I want to get back in the league and show what I can do.” If Redden was signed to a modest $2 to $3 million per year, he may still be overpaid but nobody would even be having this conversation. Redden was a victim of a cap system and seems determined to get back up to the NHL once more. Redden said “I definitely have a sour taste in my mouth from how things went in New York.” Perhaps the Rangers inadvertently lit a fire in Redden. It makes you wonder why Redden wouldn’t choose to walk away from his NHL contract so that he could sign elsewhere. Redden could be a bargain for teams looking for a little depth and who knows, maybe he’ll be able to prove his naysayers wrong. But for now, Redden is stuck biding his time like everybody else.