Ok, let me start by stating that Wade Redden is not worth $6.5M. He may be never was and the contract (6 years, $39M) the Rangers gave Redden was one of the worst ever handed out in NHL history. In part because he is not worth that and in part because there is no evidence that any other team had any interest in offering anything close to that amount so the Rangers were bidding against themselves and still paid well over market value. But that isn’t the point of this article. The point I want to make is that Redden was, and still is a good defenseman that should be in the NHL.
Ok, now for some straight forward stats:
As you can see there is a clear drop off in his offensive production. The question is, can Redden be fully blamed for that dropoff? Here are his teams goals per game production during that time compared to Redden’s points per game production.
Clearly Redden’s offensive production, up until last year, was in part due to the fact that his teams overall offensive production dropped. In Ottawa it was due to losing some quality talent off the team as well as becoming a more defensive team than an offense first team. Then he went to New York where the Rangers offense was awful because they played a defensive style and had no real elite offensive players. Not all of Redden’s offensive production drop off can be explained by team influences but a good chunk of it can.
But what happened last year? His offensive production dropped off to just 14 points even though the Rangers offensive production increased. To explain that, lets take a look at his time on ice statistics.
So last year Wade Redden’s power play ice time dropped off the face of the earth. He went from 290 minutes of power play ice time in 2008-09 to just over 22 minutes last year. His even strength ice time dropped 15% as well and he was asked to play a less offensive role.
Let’s take a look at Redden’s even strength points per 60 minutes of even strength ice time and compare it to his teams goals per game production.
Up until last year the change in Redden’s even strength points per game production pretty much mirrored the change in the offensive production of his team. What happened last year? He was dropped to the second, sometimes third, pairing, and was not asked to play an offensive role and wasn’t playing with offensive players as frequently. Last season, only about 25% of his even strength ice time was he on the ice the same time as Marion Gaborik and his main defense partner was rookie Matt Gilroy and the forward he was on the ice most with was rookie Artem Anisimov. In short, Redden was not given an opportunity to succeed offensively last year and clearly his point production suffered.
Defensive statistics are difficult to measure but Redden was +8 last year which was good for fifth on the Rangers and second among defensemen. In 2008-09 he finished -5 which put him middle of the pack for the Rangers but the second highest of the regular defensemen behind only Paul Mara.
When you consider my overall player evaluation system his numbers are more than reasonable.
In Ottawa he was asked to play a more offensive role which benefitted his offensive numbers but was detrimental to his defensive numbers. In New York they played a more defensive structured system and his offense suffered but his defensive numbers improved. In a more limited role last year he maintained his defensive performance and produced offensively relative to what to expect compared to his line mates and opposition. This is consistent with what you will find with other rating systems such as those over at BehindTheNet. All the stats considered, Redden appears to be a slightly above average defenseman in the NHL who is good enough to be a second pairing defenseman on most teams and on weaker teams he could be a top pairing defenseman and a lot of his production drop off can be attributed to reduction in his teams offensive ability and a reduction in his offensive role on the team.
Unfortunately for Redden he is paid like an elite level defenseman. Even more unfortunately for Redden, he is being paid that by the NY Rangers where cap space is more important than saving money. On most other teams there would be more incentive to get his salary off the books, or at least some portion of it which could facilitate a trade in which a bad contract is taken back or a re-entry waiver call up which would allow a team to claim Redden and only have to pay him half of his remaining salary. That would mean a salary cap hit of $3.25M over the next 4 years and a financial hit of $3.25M for the next two seasons and $2.5M the following two seasons with the Rangers responsible for the other half. At a cap hit of $3.25M Redden probably represents reasonable value and there might be some takers but the Rangers don’t seem interested in having $3.25M taken off their salary cap for each of the next four seasons.
From my perspective, this is a flaw in the CBA. It forces a perfectly good player in Wade Redden out of the league because of a mistake the owners made. Under the old CBA when owners made mistakes and handed out huge contracts the owners suffered. Under the new CBA the players and fans suffer. This needs to be rectified in the next CBA and there are some easy ways to do it.
- When players are claimed off reentry waivers, the half the salary responsible by the team who lost the player will not count against the salary cap. If this were the case now you can bet that Redden would be put on re-entry waivers and I’d bet there would be a decent chance someone would claim him.
- Allow players to re-negotiate their contracts down if, and only if, they clear waivers. Under this scenario, Redden passed through waivers at his $6.5M and no other team was interested. Redden could go play in the AHL and earn his $6.5M but he might prefer to negotiate his salary down in order to remain in the NHL. Restrictions would have to be made on what could be re-negotiated so the team can’t impose renegotiation on the player but there may be scenarios, such as Redden’s, where contract negotiation may be mutually beneficial to everyone. The team saves money and salary cap space, the player gets to remain in the NHL, and the fans get more good players to watch. Sounds like a win-win-win situation to me.
Only time will tell if they fix this problem in the upcoming CBA but in the mean time, fans get the short end of the stick by not getting to see the best talent play at the NHL as there are a lot more players other than Redden that have been forced out of the NHL because of salary cap considerations that are more than capable NHL players.