Ladies and Gentlemen of Blueshirt Banter I've had enough of this Wade Redden to Hartford talk. I know he has quite possibly the worst contract in NHL history, and had an anemic season points wise, and was a healthy scratch for a few games. To the average Rangers fan he is the worst defensemen ever to play the game (seriously what happened to the hate for Rumun Ndur or Sylvain Lefebvre anymore?) But if you look deeper Wade Redden really isn't the anti-christ. He's not a great defensemen, but he is better on this team rather than off it: here's why.
1. Surprising Stats you probably never thought to look at: To most hockey fan there are only 3 stats that matter: goals, assists, and points. That is far from the case, as most fans don't ever spend the minimal time or effort to look deeper. This isn't to criticize most fans, but I'm going to show you 3 numbers that ought to be looked at: 17:31, 66, and :18. The first stat is Wade Redden's average ice-time per game. It is fifth on the team. Yes most people don't realize his icetime was slashed by over 5 minutes from the previous year either. Now, most people will probably say that a 6 million dollar man shouldn't be a 3rd pair defensemen, but I'll address that later. This number is surprising because Wade Redden averaged almost 2 shifts more than Michael Del Zotto and 3 more than Matt Gilroy, yet Del Zotto received more minutes than Redden. You probably also didn't realize that this has to do with Redden's 2:07 a game on the penalty kill. While we think of Marc Staal and Dan Girardi as our primary killers and even Michal Rozsival getting more time than Redden, Wade Redden was 3rd on the team in terms of time on our 84.3% (7th best in the league by the way) penalty kill. Only Staal, Girardi, Drury, Callahan, and Dubinsky had more time on the ice shorthanded. The next stat is 66 shots, the lowest Redden has taken in his career. This is alarming because Redden has never taken below 100 shots in a year. But this probably came from 5 minutes less ice time a game, and less time on the Power Play, which leads us to our last stat 18 seconds. 18 seconds per game is how much time Wade Redden was on the power play. That's no time at all and shows that he was never on the power play to begin with. Why is this alarming? Because Redden was brought in here to help our power play, as he has been a force on Ottawa's for years. No time on the Power Play means Redden cannot score power play points (the bulk of his points in his career) or take shots on the power play which probably is why he had a career low in shots. IN 08-09 Redden was on the PP for over 3 minutes a game, and it is so surprising he lost the time he was brought in here to excel on. I know Redden was not great on the Power Play last year, but NO ONE WAS (I blame Perry Pearn), and the fact that Michal Rozsival scored 4 power play points this year and got 2 minutes a game, while Redden got 18 seconds is ridiculous. The final stat I just want to throw in is +8. Plus Minus is a team stat I know, but it is an indicator about how team players play at the end of the year. Redden was second on the team in terms of defensemen (behind only Marc Staal) and way ahead of compadres Michal Rozsival (+3) Matt Gilroy (even) Dan Girardi (-2) and Michael Del Zotto (-20). So is Wade still looking like the anti-christ now? If you said yes, then you agree that he shouldn't be sent down. If you said no, I'll continue.
2. Stop bitching about the price there was a reason he made what he did: Wade Redden did not give himself a 6.5 million dollar a year contract to play in NYC, Glen Sather did (this is not an anti-Sather article, this is just a fact). The reason Glen Sather had (yes I chose the word had for a reason) to bad Wade Redden a lot of money was because we needed a defensemen who warranted a large contract because they were good. Brian Campbell was signed by Chicago at a salary of around 8 million per year. The next best defensemen on the market, who happened to be a PP specialist (didn't the 2007-08 Rangers struggle on the Power Play?) was Wade Redden. He was a top pair defensemen who was dissatisfied with Ottawa's management and was a UFA. There was some complaint that he was fading away, yet the stats showed he was still doing great on the PP and had a mediocre (as in 38 points in 80 games as a +11 defensemen with 16 power play points, yeah real f'ing mediocre) season after 2 very good ones. Yet, when he signed with the Rangers he became one of our higher scoring defensemen. He came into a team that in 08-09 had an anemic offense, and a horribly run power play. He still managed to put up 26 points (second best defensemen) and play on Perry Pearn's (ok I still shudder hearing that name) Piss Poor Power Play. He was paid the salary that the market dictated at the time, and deserved what he got. Since all of a sudden we are trying to become the 2002 Oakland Athletics and play MoneyPuck, where are all the "DEMOTE CHRIS DRURY NOW" threads? There are none. Why not, since we are trying to be so damn fiscally responsible? Because Drury has a value to this team as does Redden.
3. Wade Redden was an NHL-ready defensemen last time I checked: Wade Redden has played in the NHL since 1996 and has 994 NHL games to his credit. Bobby Sanguinetti played 5 games this season. Why does this matter? Because Ranger fans want to save money they are not going to overpay another defensemen a gross amount of money, they are going to promote from within. YAAAY! Too bad they are now going to have a defense where only 1 player has played more than 4 seasons in the NHL, and half of the defense will have played less than 100 NHL games. If that doesn't sound troubling to you, you obviously think because we captured lightning in a bottle with a first round pick who was supposed to go higher than 20th overall, we will do it again with a first rounder who has spent the past few seasons in the AHL getting beat by first rounders younger than him and college defensemen that have played the position of defense for about 5 years. We got lucky with MDZ, and he and Gilroy had plenty of growing pains this year. Would you rather have the blueline have a player who's about to play his 1000th NHL game next year? Than keep Wade Redden. BUT if Ranger fans want to abandon the fiscal responsibility that put Wade Redden in the minors (man its starting to sound like you just don't like the guy rather than care about the team...) go right ahead and pay Anton Volchenkov 5 million dollars (the equivilant of a 4 year 20 million dollar contract) a year! I mean its not like Volchenkov hasn't scored more than 20 points in a given season (oh wait he hasn't...) and is known for his power play capabilities (his total power play points for his career is 4). So basically we are paying a guy to be a defensive d-man, while sending our veteran offensive d-man, who had a bad year due to reasons I stated above, to the minors. That sounds like it will do wonders for our offense!
4. Roster turnover: It seems that every year the Rangers have a roster that is good, but not good enough, so we through half of it away and buy new players to try and get a better roster! And then every year the fans complain about lines that are constantly juggled and that chemistry is never achieved. I wonder why? Instead of casting off a perceived (not perceived not actual) weak link and trying to just insert another player to magically be better, why don't we keep the same 6 man defensive unit (granted that includes signing Staal and Girardi, which should be done regardless) together for another year. Don't you think that keeping the players that are familiar with each other together sounds like a good idea? Its this "let's throw stuff together and hope that it fits" mentality that has plagued the Rangers since the Gretzky era and clearly it isn't being abandoned. So instead of scapegoating the veteran, why don't we give the unit another go and make amends within it to suit everyone's needs.
5. Rangers Management is just a clusterfuck (pardon my french): Hypothetically, when the Rangers send Redden down (besides me buying a WolfPack Redden jersey and laughing in people's face when he does well) he should theoretically be the best defensemen in Hartford and the first guy the Rangers should call up if there is an injury because he is best man to fit in. I mean he's A) played with these guys and B) a legitimate NHL defensemen. So what happens when the Rangers are dumb enough to call him up and another team claims him? I mean do you honestly think the Rangers could handle this banishment (which is ridiculous to begin with, but for this example is not the point) correctly? I mean this are the now fiscally-responsible management team that signed him to begin with! What to say they think no one will claim him, and call him up when Sanguinetti (again we need to stay fiscally responsible people) is a total failure? Someone will claim him. I know the banishment is supposed to banish him forever, but something deep down inside tells me the Rangers will find a way to screw that up.
So there you have it. Some logical, and for the benefit of the Rangers reasons to not send Wade Redden down. I just don't see the need to cast of a perfectly good NHL defensemen, but that's just me.