As we all know, I am an Islanders fan and I usually write only Islanders blogs, but I felt I should address the signing of Wade Redden as I see it. As July 1st came for the Islanders and the Rangers, I made sure that this year I would be better prepared for the sounds of crickets and mice running through the Coliseum, while also preparing myself to hear announcements all day about the Rangers signing all of Gods creation to their roster for the upcoming season. I figured Snow would try to stick to his plan of rebuilding, while maybe trying hard to go after Radim Vrbata or possibly even Kristian Huselius. This young talent seemed to make the only sense considering we are looking to keep the roster young and rebuild mostly from within. I also figured the Rangers would be throwing obscene amounts of money at Mats Sundin and Marian Hossa, while also trying to retain Sean Avery and Jaromir Jagr for as little as possible. Well, I was in for a surprise, and I am pretty sure everyone could agree they were surprised as well.
It is approximately 3:00 PM EST on July 2nd, and so far we have seen things that are very unexpected from both the Islanders camp and the Rangers camp. The Islanders have locked up Mark Streit to a five-year contract worth $4.1 Million per season, and they have also locked up Yann Danis to compete for either the back-up position on the Islanders, or the starting position in Bridgeport. The Rangers have been relatively active as well, signing Wade Redden to a six-year contract worth $6.5 Million per season, Patrick Rissmiller (3rd-4th Liner), Anton Voros (4th Liner), Brian Fahey (AHL Defenseman thus far), Andreas Jamtin (Europe), and re-signing Rozsival and Valiquette. To sum it up, it has been a very active day in New York, especially in the defensive spectrum. Let us look at the signings of Mark Streit vs. that of Wade Redden and Michal Rozsival. Please keep in mind I am not bashing the Rangers, simply expressing an opinion that I know is shared by many.
Mark Streit will join the Islanders in a rebuilding time period. While I feel he is only worth maybe $3.5 Million per season, his contract is a reflection of the inflated prices that seem to be overtaking the NHL! Last season, Streit put up a phenomenal 62 points (13 Goals, 49 Assists). On the power-play, he was used as a quarterback while also constantly sneaking in the back door for a goal. He put up 7 goals and 27 assists for 34 points on the man-advantage, which shows why he is labeled as a PP perfomer. While these are great numbers, I would not expect to see the same numbers next year. We do not have the firepower that the Canadiens do, and therefore I will be pleased if he is able to put up 40-45 points and help to quarterback our power -play. What can we expect from him defensively? He will most likely be part of our 5-6 pairing defenseman, logging approximately 18+ minutes per game, and we can hopefully watch his defensive game flourish under Nolan, as much as his offensive game has developed under Carbonneau. He is capable of playing solid defensively, with the occasional lapse every so often. His contract will prove to be a great signing more in years three through five of the contract when our young talent has developed and made us a contender. By that time, one can only imagine the price of contracts for a defenseman who puts up points! At only thirty years of age, we are getting him entering his prime and hopefully he will be able to demonstrate his offensive abilities, and let Campoli and Gervais learn from them.
Wade Redden will join the Rangers in what I believe will be a defining season for the Rangers. Drury and Gomez are now active leaders, however, they no longer have Avery, and it seems like Shanahan, Jagr, and Straka are all on their way out as well. It will be tough to replace the talent that those four contributed, but I believe players like Nigel Dawes and Brandon Dubinsky are full of talent and ready to demonstrate why they will be stars in this league some day. Wade Redden will be making $6.5 Million per season over the course of the next six years. This is essentially the same amount of money that Lundqvist is making. Now I am not digging into the Rangers, I just enjoy stirring up hockey conversation, but do all the Ranger fans out there, or any hockey fans for that matter, believe that Redden is as important to this team as Lundqvist? Over the past two seasons, his play has significantly dropped off, not even taking into account his point totals. His play during the second-half of this past season and especially in the playoffs was atrocious, and many believed he would only make around $4 Million this year at best. I understand the need for a puck-moving defenseman, but I feel that the Rangers should have been able to get Redden for much less. He only put up a total of 38 points this season, while playing a total of 80 games. For a team that features Alfredsson, Heatley, and Spezza on the power play, that is simply unacceptable for an offensive defenseman! Do I feel that he is great at making the breakout pass or skating the puck out of the zone? Yes, he is still great at doing that. However, last season he seemed to have lost a step, and was making very bad turnovers in his own end. His presence along the boards was missing, and he seemed almost afraid to go 100 percent at all times. Do I feel he is capable of being a great defenseman, yes, but I have to say I am worried for the Rangers and Ranger fans if he plays as he did the past two seasons in Ottawa. This is a tremendous cap hit to deal with for a struggling 3-4 defenseman, especially if he continues his play. What I feel makes this worse is that the Rangers continued to make a bad payroll decision by re-signing Michal Rozsival to a four year, $20 Million contract. Rozsival may have a great shot, but we can all agree he is not that great in his own zone or at shutting down other teams top units. For $11.5 Million, the Rangers could have gotten Streit easily over the Isles, and they could have thrown a nice sum of money at Orpik, and still had money left over. The Rangers sorely lack that crease-clearing, hard hitting defenseman. Orpik would bring that to the table! Streit would have filled the same gap that Redden is going to fill and just as well, and Orpik would have been used as the shut-down man possibly alongside of Staal or Girardi. To keep looking on the bright-side for the Rangers though, hopefully Redden will be able to help Staal, and soon Sanguinetti, develop into better offensive defenseman. He is a true veteran, and also a leader in the locker room, and will be a great influence on the kids.
Before Ranger fans jump down my throat about how I am putting down their team, please understand, I really am just expressing what I feel was a bad signing for the Rangers. The Rangers have a much better team than the Islanders right now and that is obvious to anyone who watches the NHL. I do feel it is easier for the Rangers to sign those big-name free agents, hence the reason they could have had Streit over the Islanders any day of the week. I feel Streit and Orpik would have been more beneficial to the Rangers in the long run than Redden and Rozsival. They take up a tremendous amount of cap-space for number 3-4 defensemen. I do think Redden could be a great come-back player, but if he isnt, it will be hard to unload such a high-priced, underperforming player. I am also going to say straight out that I know the Islanders are not getting the next Lidstrom in Streit. We are getting a mediocre defenseman with a tremendous offensive upside. But for $4.1 Million, Garth Snow definitely made a savvy investment into our future. Obviously only time will tell how these investments pan out, but for right now, this is an opinion I hold strongly. Please feel free to leave your opinion, it is greatly appreciated! Good luck to everyone adding whoever else they would like on their rosters, and good luck to both the Islanders and the Rangers.