Remember Wade Redden? How could you not?
If there were ever a play who was doomed before ever pulling the Rangers sweater over his head, it's Redden. In the summer of 2008, Redden signed a six-year, $39 million deal that carries a cap hit of $6.5 million per season through next season.
We all know there was no way Redden, who was already showing signs of decline entering the back-nine of his career. After peaking in 2005-06 with 50 points — his only 50-point NHL campaign — Redden's production dropped to 36 and 38 points, respectively, over the next two seasons.
Then came the contract, and in his first season in New York, Redden put up just 26 points and was a minus-5 in 81 games. The following season was worse, as he put up just 12 points in 75 games. It was his final in the NHL.
The Rangers were able to bury his contract in the minor leagues, thus avoiding the high cap hit in the process.
That was then and this is now, as new CBA rules prevent teams from burying players in the minors by charging AHL salaries in excess of $900,000 to NHL caps. What that means is the Rangers will be charged about $5 million in cap space this season for Redden, whether he's on the team or not.
The Rangers should give Redden the opportunity to make the squad out of camp because they are going to paying him regardless. Yes, he's a shell of his former self, but why not?
We know the top-four of Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal and Michael Del Zotto are locks, but the bottom three are question marks.
Is Redden no better than Stu Bickel, Anton Stralman or Steve Eminger? Of the three, Eminger gets the upper-hand because you know what you're getting from him.
Head Coach John Tortorella showed last season he doesn't trust Bickel, who is probably better served as a seventh defenseman who dresses for rivalry games.
Stralman was great in the playoffs last season, but is wildly inconsistent.
Redden would bring a veteran presence to a still very young defensive corp. He's a guy who has had success in the playoffs, having appeared in one Stanley Cup final with the Ottawa Senators.
TSN's Bob McKenzie said the Rangers have three options, including trying to find a trading partner to take Redden, which would all but require them to give picks and prospects to entice a partner.
The second option is to bite the bullet, pay him and send him back to Connecticut, which is risky because if he gets hurt, they may not be able to buy him out next year.
The third option, according to McKenzie, is to keep him around but don't play him.
All are viable options, with the third probably being the best. But in my opinion, you must give him a shot to make the team. You can never have too much defense, especially a veteran presence.
The guy still has something left and plenty to prove. If the Rangers are going to get anything out of this contract, now is the time.
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