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Posts tagged: Wade Redden

The Need for a Seventh Defensemen Intensifies

The Rangers need a seventh defensemen, and the last two games are definitive proof of this. In both games, players that we as fans have come to trust as defensive stalwarts have been playing shaky defense at best. Marc Staal and Dan Girardi have been fairly unspectacular this year, with the latter being downright terrible at points. We saw it last year with Girardi, as towards the end of the year, he has been prone to being beat to the puck. This year, teams are just attacking him and he has yet to adjust.

While Girardi has been consistently bad, Staal is prone to the epic turnover. He made a horrific turnover during the game against Anaheim, but Steve Valliquette bailed him out. He also made a pair of turnovers in the first period against the Devils last night, which eventually led to the Zach Parise goal in the first period.

As a matter of fact, the most consistent defensemen on the Rangers this year, in terms of defensive consistency, has been….wait for it….Wade Redden. That’s right Blueshirt Faithful, the most dependable defensman has been none other than the second (first?) of the albatross twins. He has been uncharacteristically solid in his own end, and conceding the offensive game to Michael Del Zotto. Sure, he isn’t paid to be just defensively solid, but I think we will take a non-liability.

On a team with two rookies (Del Zotto, Matt Gilroy), a downright terrible Michal Rozsival, and the stunningly consistent (but for how long?) Wade Redden, Staal and Girardi were expected to be anchors along the blue line and have been anything but that. Perhaps they have become too comfortable with their role on the team. Perhaps they are tired after an intense training camp. Perhaps teams have watched video and are exploiting their weaknesses.

No matter the case, a seventh defensemen will light a fire under the collective rear-ends of the defensive corps. If someone like Mathieu Dandenault, now with Hartford, winds up with the team, don’t you think that the current defensemen will have some pressure to perform? Competition is a very good thing, especially when someone is knocking on the door to play.

I would have preferred the Rangers go after Cory Murphy, but he was already assigned to the AHL. Instead, we have to count on Dandenault impressing in Hartford. Regardless of who it is (Corey Potter, Bobby Sanguinetti, and Michael Sauer are other possibilities that don’t have to pass through waivers), the Rangers need to apply the appropriate pressure to get the underachievers on their game.

A Look at the Defensive Pairings

With Michael Del Zotto officially making the team, I thought it would be interesting to look at defensive pairings. Who fits well with who? Let’s take a look:

1st pair: Staal-Rosival

Ideally, your first pair is your best. You have a good offensive defenseman, and a strong shutdown d-man. This combination gives the Rangers just that. Staal is the Rangers best defender. He has the potential to shut down one side of the ice. He’s an All-Star for years to come. Michal Rosival, however, has been struggling, and looked absolutely awful in the last preseason game against the Caps. But, that’s exactly why I put him with Staal. If he makes a mistake, he has Staal back there. Will this limit Staal’s offensive capabilities? A bit. But that’s what Gilroy and Del Zotto are for. This is not the best first pair in the NHL. No where close. But, it’s solid.

2nd pair: Gilroy-Girardi

I really debated where to put the rookies. I settled on Gilroy and Girardi for a couple reasons. One, Girardi, even with his preseason struggles, is a solid defensive defenseman. Gilroy, while solid in his own end, is a tremendous offensive player, who will look to lead and join the rush. He showed that during the preseason. This combination combines offensive and defensive players. In a defensive pair, you want a combination of both. This is a nice 2nd pair.

3rd pair: Redden-Del Zotto

Yes. Wade Redden as a third pair defenseman. It’s true. That’s where he belongs. I expect him to take a leap forward in his play this year–he really improved once Torts came along. He may not be the offensive player he once was, but he’s not awful as a defender. Del Zotto has shown great offensive instincts, as well as a good understanding of positional play. Having a veteran like Redden to learn from would be very beneficial to MDZ. If he gets sent back to juniors, I would put Semenov or whatever defenseman they sign off the scrap heap in this spot.

The Rangers defense core is solid. Not great. Solid. They have an emerging young star in Staal. Two really promising rookies in Gilroy and Del Zotto. Girardi, Rosival and Redden round out a solid group. I expect good things from all of them this year. What do you think of the defense core, and what are your ideal defensive pairings?

In the “I Can’t Make This Stuff Up” Department…

Some funny item’s I’ve come across lately:

  • I bought NHL 10, and before I started the season, the game automatically had to get the Rangers under the cap. It put Wade Redden in the minors. No. Seriously. It did.
  • Found this NHL 10 review. Laughed hysterically at “In Front Office mode, the “fire general manager” option is permanently greyed out for the New York Rangers.”
  • I was at the Wings/Rangers preseason game, and there was some idiot wearing a Pens jersey. A chant of “Crosby’s female” going around, and my friend, a girl, said “Crosby IS female, and he gives us a bad name”.
  • As a part of Pierre LeBrun’s chat:

    Michael (Great Neck, NY)

    What do you expect to see from Artem Anisimov this year?
    Pierre
    (4:44 PM)

    very little English

All of this is true. I swear.

Wade Redden’s Second-Half “Resurgence”

Suffice it to say, Wade Redden is not a fan favorite in New York. He was signed as a premier free agent last offseason to a six-year deal worth $6.5 million a year on average, and in return, he had a very poor first year with the Rangers. His first half of the season was downright terrible, and fans mercilessly booed him until his ears bled.

Enter John Tortorella for the final 21 games of the season. All of a sudden, Redden seems more comfortable on the ice, and it’s beginning to show. In those 21 games, Redden put up a goal and five assists, not stellar, but definitely an improvement on what we had seen all season. However, Redden was also a +6 in those 21 games, bringing his +/- from the year to a -5. That’s a vast improvement over what we saw in the previous 61 games. Sure, it’s a small sample size, but over an 82 game span, that averages out to a line of 4-20-24 and +24. It’s not worth $6.5 million, but I’ll take that +24 on the defensive side of the puck.

But let’s break down those offensive numbers a bit. The Rangers had the 29th ranked power play in the league. Enter Marian Gaborik, Chris Higgins, and Ales Kotalik. While I believe that Michal Rozsival should be the focal point of the power play, it will be Redden’s job to lose. There will be plenty of options for Redden to dish the biscuit to, and should Gaborik be covered, there are solid options in Higgins and Kotalik, who will bury their opportunities. This is a luxury the Rangers didn’t have last season.

Maybe I’m being overly optimistic, which considering the constant negativity from every single writer on the face of the earth, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’m looking forward to see how Redden reacts to a full season under Tortorella. Who knows, maybe he can put up the 40 points I’m hoping he can. But if he can’t I’ll take a +24.

Stan Fischler Interview with Torts

The age-less Stan Fischler caught up with John Tortorella to discuss the offseason, 2009-2010 outlook, and just general expectations. He asked all the questions that are definitely on our minds, from Sean Avery to Marian Gaborik, but one thing caught my attention:

IMPROVING THE POWER PLAY: “The biggest thing we need is to have someone to settle it down. We need a quarterback just to have poise and not make a bad play; a turnover. One of our biggest weaknesses was a lack of poise and our building can be tough. Redden has to be one of the guys who can settle it down and Rozsival as well.”

Like it or not, Wade Redden will be the PP QB this year, at least to start. We all saw an improvement on his part once Torts took over, but this really puts it in perspective. Redden will be the #1 defenseman on this team. He will be QBing the powerplay, and he will be given every opportunity to succeed. While I don’t think he is worth his salary, or is even a #1 defenseman, that is the scenario, and we have to live with it. All we can do is give him support and hope that he reacts well to it.

Garrioch: Rangers May Waive Redden

Well, this is a bit of stunning news. Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun, who tends to always have rumors, so take this one with a bit of “professional skepticism”, mentions that the Rangers have been trying to deal Wade Redden, but have been unsuccessful. Taking this further Garrioch states that:

There is talk the Rangers might waive D Wade Redden at the start of next season and send him to the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack to get his $6.5-million salary off the books. New York has tried to deal Redden, but nobody is willing to bite. He still has $32.5 million and five years left on his contract.

As I said, take this with a grain of salt. Financially, it makes a ton of sense to waive Redden. Obviously his $6.5 million contract was a mistake. From a hockey sense, waiving Redden leaves the defense as Rozsival, Staal, Girardi, Gilroy, and two empty spots. There are a myriad of options for the Rangers with the two open spots, but that’s not where the extra cap room will be spent.

You have to assume that if the Rangers waive Redden, and bury him in the minors, that the money saved will be used on a big time scorer. There are a few available, and only one that I would cringe at (Gaborik). Clear the cap room and sign Hossa? I’m all for it.

Of course, this is pure speculation. I don’t think Sather will admit his mistake with Redden this soon. Still, it’s worth noting that waiving Redden has upgraded from fan grumblings to irresponsible rumor mongoring.

Update 8:30pm: Just for some clarification, Redden has a limited no-trade clause, meaning he can reject a trade to 8 teams he lists at the beginning of the offseason. This is not a no-movement clause. He can be waived.

Rangers NTCs

As draft day nears, there are always “ideas” of trades, especially of the large contracts. Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s look at who the Rangers have given no-trade clauses (NTC) and no-movement clauses (NMC). Information courtesy of NHLSCAP.com:

  • Chris Drury: Full NMC
  • Scott Gomez: NTC – has 3 teams he will not accept a trade to.
  • Wade Redden: NTC – has 8 teams he will not acept a trade to.
  • Michael Rozsival: NTC – has 8 teams that he will not accept a trade to.

Essentially, everyone other than Drury is moveable. Is it likely that these guys will be moved? No. The player with the biggest chance of being moved is Rozsival, but that is also highly unlikely.

This is just food for thought while everyone comes up with their wild trade scenarios.

Buying Out Wade Redden

With the Rangers cap situation, a lot of talk has been tossed around about buying out troubled defenseman Wade Redden. His cap hit is currently $6.5 million, and is a real road block for trying to re-tool this team. As part of building the ‘Understand the Cap’ page, I calculated what it would cost to buyout Wade Redden:

As of the end of the 2008-2009 season, Wade has 5 years and $31 million remaining on his contract. The buyout amount is ($31 million * 2/3 = $20.67 million). Twice the remaining years on his contract is (5 years * 2 = 10 years). Now, spread the buyout amount evenly over the years ($20.67/10 = $2.067 million).

So there you have it, if the Rangers were to buyout Wade Redden, they would have a cap hit of $2.067 million over the next 10 seasons.

Overall, it saves the Rangers $4.5 million for the next five years, and then costs the Rangers $2.067 million for the next five. Well worth it I think.

Note that the buyout amount is the remaining dollar amount on the contract, not the cap hit.

Finals Thoughts and a Recap on a Season on the Brink

I allowed myself to decompress for 24-48 hours after the Rangers season officially ended to talk about what happened.  Much like a legendary player being asked to retire when he’s ousted from the playoffs, you have to sift through your emotions before you give an honest assessment of things.  100% agree with Dave that the better team won this series, but ironically, I thought the Rangers were the better team for the most part in Game 7.  The game itself was a microcosm of the the Blueshirts season and series:  strong to start, treading water in the middle, and plagued by an inability to score and create chances in the end.  This team truly gave their all in the final game though, and that makes the sting a bit more bearable.  Now that the smoke has cleared, it has become obvious to me (and hopefully all of you) that John Tortorella got the most out of a team that has seemingly zero offensive firepower, and the fact that he got them to claw all the way into the playoffs says a lot about the type of coach he can be for this franchise.

So now that the sting is starting to subside, lets take a look back on the highs and lows of this season, and what’s to come from the 89 games:

HIGHS

-The Blueshirts got off to a fantastic start, going 10-2-1 in the month of October and staking themselves to a huge early lead in the Eastern Conference

-Three players had their numbers retired: Harry Howell (3), Andy Bathgate (9), and Adam Graves (9)

-Tom Renney and his stale style of hockey were finally replaced by John Tortorella’s aggressive attack, making for a much more efficient and relatively exciting Rangers team to watch.

-The Rangers re-acquired Sean Avery off waivers from the Dallas Stars, adding the edge that the team needed down the stretch.

-Henrik Lundqvist gave no doubt to the fact that he is easily one of the top 3 goalies in the world today

-After falling out of the playoff picture in late February/early March, the Rangers made a remarkable turn around, headlined by John Tortorella’s coaching, to finish 7th in the Eastern Conference standings.  The team had several key wins down the stretch to jump into the playoffs.

-Nik Antropov and Derek Morris were acquired via trade at the deadline, and provided some size and stability to their respective positions.

-The combination of Blair Betts and Frederik Sjostrom (throw Hank in there if you’d like) emerged as the best penalty killing unit in the NHL.

-While maybe not necessarily a high, Markus Naslund provided exactly what was expected of him: a 20-25 goal season and consistency up front.

LOWS

-The start of 2009 brough no joy to the Rangers, as they started to collapse under the Tom Renney regime.  The low-point was highlighted by a 10-2 drubbing at the hands of the Dallas Stars, and ultimately would signify the end of the Renney era.

-The tragic death of top-tier prospect Alexei Cherapanov cast a shadow over the Rangers future.

-Nikolai Zherdev’s did not provide the 30+ goal output that many believed it would, and the youngster crumbled in his first post-season

-The offseason acquistion of Wade Redden was nothing but a complete disaster.

– Michael Roszival’s absurd contract extension (mainly its length) is beginning to rear its ugly head, and the combination of Redden and Roszival’s salaries and contract length will plague this franchise for years to come.

-The power-play never amounted to anything, under both coaches, and has been the most pressing issue since the lockout ended.

-An inability to provide consistent offense or any offensive threat whatsoever doomed this team as the season progressed

-Leading 3-1 in their opening round playoff series, the Blueshirts fell apart when it mattered most, a series headlined by the suspension of John Tortorella for Game 6

-Versus continues to cover the NHL

WHATS TO COME

-Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, Lauri Korpikoski, Sean Avery, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi will be the core of this team under the John Tortorella regime.  The new coach must also find the right players for his style of play, as it became obvious that the current group cannot provide the type of play Tortorella would like to play.

-Blair Betts, Frederik Sjostrom, Colton Orr, and Nik Antropov MUST be re-signed.  Betts and Sjostrom combine to be the best PK tandem and 4th line in the league.  Orr is the best fighter in the NHL, and you still need at least one of them on your team.  Antropov provides much needed size and scoring touch going forward.

-Markus Naslund, with only one-year remaining, should be dealt somewhere.  The aging forward, once considered the best two-way player in the NHL, did not thrive in Tortorella’s system.

-Time for Scott Gomez and Chris Drury to finally step up and take the reigns as the elder statesmen on this team.  The honeymoon is over boys.

-Say goodbye to Paul Mara (regretably), Nik Zherdev, and Derek Morris.  In addition, Sather must find a way to part ways with either Redden or Roszival, either through a buy-out or trade.

-Its time for the Rangers projects and farm system to step-up and become elite players in the league.  This includes players currently on the team (who have now played in enough tight playoff series) and players in their farm system (who up until this point have done nothing but be talked about).  History shows that free-agent/trade acquisitions don’t do it for this team, and the home-grown talent must finally rise to the top.

-If they are going to keep him for the next 3 seasons, the organization must get on the league’s case about the officiating bias towards Sean Avery.  While he is no saint, the abuse this guy takes on a nightly basis is absolutely absurd.  Game 7 was just an example.  Generally speaking, the officiating around the league in general must change, as these ticky-tack calls are making even the most die-hard hockey fan’s head spin.

-While no fault falls on him, Henrik Lundqvist must find a way to be better than spectacular come playoff time.  I’m talking god-like, all the time.  If you want to know what I’m looking for, see Giguere for the Ducks and Khabibulin for the Lightning.

-The power-play can no longer be the Achilles heel of this team.  Either through someone currently on the team stepping up or by acquiring someone via free agency or trade that can FINALLY do it themselves, the Rangers must learn to capitalize on the opportunities provided.

-Whatever the makeup of this team comes to be, they have to find a way to be consistently good all season long.  The continuous ebb and flow of the Rangers the past few seasons has come back to haunt them in the playoffs, as the lack of home-ice advantage has made things very difficult.

Whew.  I’m sure there are plenty of things here that plenty of you agree/disagree with.  I’m pretty sure there are plenty of things that I missed and will think about later.  It was a crazy season for so many reasons, and to try to cover it all would take weeks and months.  I’d like to hear about what you all have to say about the Rangers season, and what you think should/shouldn’t happen as the organization moves forward.  Either way, this has been a very enjoyable experience, and I’m looking forward to adding thoughts and insight to a team I love so much.

Wade Redden and the Proverbial Mud

Part of me still doesn’t believe it.  I’ve never seen an NHL defenseman flat-footed so often.  He just doesn’t have the size or the reach to compensate.  Not blaming the loss on him, but he was certainly exposed (again) tonight.  Not good.

Lundqvist was certainly below par, and he was shaky after getting rattled by Ruutu early in the 1st.  Normally, Colton Orr would’ve come in handy after that, but Carolina doesn’t have that guy who will accept the challenge.  When you see your franchise goalie get run like that though, you have to respond in a big way, and I just don’t think the Rangers were able to do it the way they may have wanted to.  New regime or old, the Blueshirts still have difficulty with teams that can “skate”

And on a more disturbing note, Montreal ran through the Isles tonight, putting the Rangers at the bottom of the playoff pool.  Nail-biting time fo sho.