March 18, 2012

Wade Redden: Post Season Call Up?

This is Wade Redden, the highest paid player in the minor leagues.

Redden was assigned to the AHL by the Rangers last season due to poor play but also for monetary reasons, as his $6.5 million salary doesn't count against the NHL salary cap if he's skating in the minors. Redden, who is now in the fourth year of a six-year contract, is said to have come to Hartford with a positive attitude and emerged as a mentor, especially for young defensemen.

"I knew my experience and having played as long as I have that guys would look up to me," Redden said. "I try to be a good influence and a good example — try to walk the walk."

Redden was once a savvy NHL defenseman. He was the 2nd overall draft pick in 1995. He has played over 1000 NHL games. He's played with Team Canada seven times, winning gold at the 1995 and 1996 World Juniors and the 2004 World Cup. When he helped Canada win the silver at the 2005 World Championships he was named as the tournament's best dman. On top of all that, there was once a time when the Ottawa Senators opted to keep Redden over Zdeno Chara as their franchise defenseman.

Those days are long gone. Criticized for his lack of physical play and his lack of composure with the puck under pressure, he has been banished to the minor leagues. And due to his huge contract, he is unlikely to ever get called up.

But the 35 year old Redden, who was recently named team captain in Connecticut, is hoping to get another shot at the NHL. He has recovered from his knee injury and says his body feels young.

"I definitely think I have a lot of hockey left," Redden said. "All I can do is keep working hard while I'm here."

Is there any chance that that chance could come in the 2012 playoffs? The Rangers are a Stanley Cup contender, though they do lack a puck moving defenseman. If injuries on the blue line become an issue (as they tend to do in long playoff runs) could the Rangers call for Redden's return? Not too many teams can call up a minor leaguer with over 100 Stanley Cup playoff games under their belt. The salary cap and waiver wire would not be issues once the season ends.

Okay, so it is incredibly unlikely that it will happen. Yet it is an interesting possibility if the Rangers run into serious injury problems. And even then young star Tim Erixon is likely the first call up. But the Rangers will have the option to recall a player with so much NHL experience and the desire to redeem himself. Not many teams have that luxury.

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