posted on January 28, 2013 00:00
For over two years, Wade Redden was in NHL limbo. The New York Rangers discarded him like an old toy by placing him on waivers in September 2010 after signing him to a six-year $39 million contract only two years prior. After clearing waivers, Redden was sent to the Rangers' minor league club, the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League. He made history by becoming the AHL's highest paid player in league history.
When the latest NHL lockout finally ended, the Rangers waived Redden yet again on January 16th and he cleared waivers the following day. After a compliance buyout from the Rangers was completed, Redden was free to shop his services elsewhere.
The Blues decided Redden was worth a gamble by signing him to a one-year $800,000 deal. They are hoping he can be the left handed shooting defensive partner that Alex Pietrangelo has been lacking the past couple of seasons. Granted he is 35-years-old, Redden was one of the most reliable offensive defensemen in the NHL until he changed his address from Ottawa to New York. Before signing with the Blueshirts, Redden had averaged 9 goals and 37 points per season. He is also very durable, as evidenced by his average of 76 games played per season during his career.
Redden proved his mettle this past weekend. On Saturday night in Dallas, Redden ripped a one timer past Stars goaltender Cristopher Nilstorp on a nice one touch pass from Pietrangelo for his first goal in the National Hockey League since March 18, 2010 against the team he is now employed. Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock was singing Redden's praises after the Blues 4-3 victory.
"He really played well. He arguably might have been our best defenseman," Hitchcock said. "That's a really good sign for us."
Last night against the Wild at Scottrade, Redden shot a 41 foot laser from inside the left face off circle past Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom for his second goal in as many nights in the Blues resilient 5-4 overtime victory.
What happened in New York that saw a man who was once paired with one of the top defensemen in the league in Zdeno Chara, go from penthouse to the minors?
“He fell out of favor there in New York, maybe expectations were higher than his game was being played at, and then it kind of went south from there,” Hitchcock said. “It’s nice to see him get a chance to get it back. I think everybody in hockey, especially in Canada, knows the story (and) is really proud of him. I’m proud of him; I’m proud that he stayed with it and I’m proud of him that he’s getting a second opportunity like this.”
Playing with a perennial Norris Trophy candidate like the young Pietrangelo certainly has to rejuvenate a veteran like Redden and vice versa. He admits the change of scenery has been good for him.
“I’m happy to be here now,” Redden said. “That’s definitely a comfort factor I guess. I know what (Hitchcock) expects from me, he’s laid it out. With the way that his teams play, it’s a system I’m familiar with so I think it will work out good.”
If Redden continues to produce the way he has since he's been activated, it will work out better than good.