The New York Rangers have placed Ryan Malone on unconditional waivers, as first reported by Renaud Lavoie. Unconditional waivers is a specific type of waiver category. The Rangers and Malone have mutually agreed to part ways. The Rangers pay $150 dollars to put Malone on waivers, and if he clears, then the contract will be terminated.
According to Bob McKenzie, Malone told the Rangers yesterday that he wanted to "pack it in." Presumably, Malone will go unclaimed on waivers, and he's going to announce his retirement shortly after. So this all came together very quickly and was initiated by Malone.
It's easy to see why Malone has made this decision. He scored a couple of goals in the preseason, and that was nice, but that was as good as it was going to get for Malone. Malone was pointless in six games with the Rangers and failed to show anything of substance otherwise. Malone was put on waivers, cleared, and continued to struggle with the Wolf Pack. In 24 games with the team, Malone scored just four goals and added six assists. Head Coach Ken Gernander gave Malone a number of chances to thrive on the power play and on offensive lines, but it just didn't happen. In my viewings, it was clear that Malone could still think the game incredibly well but that his hands and legs couldn't keep up anymore. It was clear about four or five games in that a number of forwards had jumped Malone on the depth chart - including Fast, Miller, Lindberg, Kristo, and both Bourque brothers - and that he was not on the radar for a call-up. In recent games, Malone had been demoted to the fourth line or scratched altogether. To be blunt, Malone was not only no longer an NHLer, but was bordering on mediocre by AHL standards. Thus, while him being placed on unconditional waivers came together quickly, one has to imagine that he's been thinking about calling it quits for some time now.
Let's be clear; the Malone experiment was failure, and that the Rangers passed up some quality depth players on the free-agent market to sign him as a project was a miscalculation.
Still, Malone should get credit for handling a tough situation like a true pro. After having been a quality NHLer for well over a decade, riding the bus in the AHL could not have been an easy transition. All indications are that he handled it with class and never complained once. Furthermore, he was an asset to both Vigneault and Gernander in the locker room. A player within the Rangers' organization reached out to me to show his appreciation for Malone.
"(Malone) was unbelievable to me," the player said. "You have a respect for a guy that has played that many games in the NHL, and him being a great guy makes him an excellent guy to have on your team as a young player."
For the Rangers, this opens up a contract. They were close to the 50-contract limit, so this will give them some room to add a contract either at the trading deadline or for signing an undrafted free agent in the spring.
Assuming this is the end, Malone finishes his NHL career with 179 goals and 370 points in 647 games as well as nine goals and 22 points in 43 playoff games. Best of luck to him in his future endeavors, and I imagine we'll see him involved in hockey soon through some means.