Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Ranger Wildcard

When it comes to disappointment from last season, Wade Redden was at the top of the list. A recipient of an inflated Glen Sather contract, Redden was immediately swamped with pressure and high expectations. After a few rough years in Ottawa, the fans of the New York Rangers were hoping Redden could bounce back and become the offensive defenseman he had been in the past. The Rangers believed they had found the point man for their power play.
Unfortunately this did not come to pass. Redden struggled with his defensive play and tallied only 26 points. The Ranger power play remained awful finishing 29th in the league at 13.9% and gave up 14 shorthanded goals. A time came when Redden was booed when he touched the puck at Madison Square Garden and the season kept going downhill from there.
However, when John Tortorella replaced Tom Renney behind the bench, flashes of the old Wade Redden began to emerge. After Torts took over the team Redden had a goal and five assists. It may not sound like much but his defensive play improved as well as he found himself more on the even or plus side of his plus/minus more often than before.
One of the biggest knocks on the veteran defenseman was his skating. I admit that watching him skate this last year was painful. He seemed to be very nonchalant on the ice and slow.
There are many things that could have been going on in Redden's head that may have made the situation tough in New York. Whatever it was, he needs to solve it. I am remaining optimistic that Redden can get everything together and be the defenseman that he used to be. Playing in a much more high octane offense with more skilled players may help the Saskatchewan native but he needs to be much better than last year. His passing is very good and his shot is a heavy one.
While many will continue to get on Redden's back this upcoming season, I am giving him another chance. If he can get his offensive game back, his best chance will be under John Tortorella. The conditioning and playing level of Redden will need to be much better this coming season if he and the New York Rangers want to prove the critics wrong.
Talk of sending Redden down the minors has cropped up during this off season. I doubt Glen Sather does this because he hates being wrong (who does?). But his patience will only go so far...just ask Scott Gomez.

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