Defenseman Wade Redden needed a change of scenery, so he chose the most scenic: Central Park.
The Ottawa mainstay is taking his game to Broadway, joining a New York Rangers defense corps that already features some nice pieces in youngsters Dan Girardi and Marc Staal, plus returning vets Fedor Tyutin and the newly re-signed Michal Rozsival.
Redden had taken a lot of heat in Ottawa and a new sweater will look good on him. He signed with the Rangers for six years at $6.5 million per season, which is a very reasonable deal for a top-notch defender who will only be 37 by the end of the contract.
As one of the key cogs during the semi-halcyon days of the Senators, Redden was a No. 1 rearguard who could put up about 45 points in a campaign. As the ship went down this year (and to a degree, the year prior), Redden was often a target of scorn for what was seen as a slip in his play. Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov took over the top pairing credentials, but Redden’s nurturing of young partner Andrej Meszaros cannot be overlooked when considering the new Ranger’s worth.
In Girardi, Staal and Bobby Sanguinetti, the Blueshirts have some blue chips in their future and present. If Redden can give them some scholarly advice along the way, then all the better.
As it is, the veteran can log plenty of minutes and play solid two-way defense.
Though the spotlight will be bright in Manhattan, anywhere is better than Ottawa right now and Redden has a chance to prove that for years to come.
Defensemen are going fast on Day 1, with six of THN’s top 10 free agent blueliners off the board. It goes without saying those teams who need help on the back end may have to overpay now for a Brooks Orpik, Mark Streit or Ron Hainsey.