Redden The Face

I went over in some detail last year the big wins that Glen Sather has put together in the past 6-7 years in the draft.  He’s also presided over what I consider to be one of the best trades in franchise history (hint: it involved someone whose name rhymes with Pot Komez).  I’m not going to retread that ground here.  We’re here now to talk about one giant miss and the implications of that miss in the new CBA.  This is one of the major differences between the current CBA and the old one.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie:

In the old CBA, it wasn’t too difficult to figure out. Because a player could be “buried” in the minors and not count against the team’s NHL salary cap, sending Redden to the AHL farm team in Hartford was simple and easy.

Out of sight, out of mind, off the salary cap.

But there’s a provision in the new CBA that doesn’t allow the hiding of NHL contracts in the minors, save the first $900,000. So Redden, with a cap hit of $6.5 million in each of this season and next, means the Rangers are now faced with using valuable cap space on a player who is not remotely part of coach John Tortorella’s plans.

So now what?

To Redden’s credit, he’s been a good soldier through all this.  He’s come to work in Hartford (when healthy) and collected his paycheck (regardless of health), with nary a negative word for the franchise.  In fact, most of the stories that I’ve read have him portrayed as a great leader down there.  I have a good deal of respect for that, though I suspect $6.5 million makes it a bit easier to swallow a stint in the minors.  It’s easy to forget now as well, but the guy was one of the better defensemen in the league for few years in the late-1990s/early-2000s.  I don’t have the numbers in front of me right now, but I think it’s fair to say that he was a top-10, if not top-5 defenseman.

McKenzie describes three scenarios, which I’ll boil down here:

1)  Dump him on a team that would take him, plus draft picks, players or both

2)  Send him back to the AHL and absorb the cap hit.  Let him play and risk him getting injured, and lose the ability to buy him out in the offseason

3)  Take the cap hit but don’t let him play at all, so he doesn’t get injured and then buy him out in the offseason

McKenzie says, without directly saying it, that the only sensible option is the third one.  Take the hit now, buy him out and rid yourself of the cap hit next year when the cap goes down.  If these are the only options, then yeah, I’ll agree.  It’s probably the right thing to do.

I would suggest, however, that there’s a 4th option at play here.  Numerous local outlets (Andrew Gross, Steve Zipay) are reporting that Redden really would like to catch on with another team to finish his career at the NHL level.  I’ve read a number of different places that there’s a movement to bring Redden into the Garden now to talk to Sather about a graceful exit before the season even starts, with the Rangers absorbing a cap hit of some kind (the CBA buyouts that start after the season are full amnesty.  No cap hit) over one or both of the next two seasons.

To me, this is the fairest way to resolve this.  For the Rangers, it allows them to finally move the figurative 800-pound gorilla out of Hartford once and for all.  For Redden, it allows him another shot to catch on somewhere.  He’d be a good fit for someone, just not at the price that the Rangers are paying.  Put him in a small market and I bet he holds his one.  It won’t be nearly the disaster he was here.

And to be honest, that’s probably all that some teams need.

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