Most sports fans' biggest gripes are against players who they consider to be "overpaid."
For baseball fans, it's Alex Rodriguez or C.C. Sabathia.
For Rangers fans, it's Wade Redden, who signed a six-year, $39 million contract this summer at the age of 31.
This season he has a whopping 16 points in 43 games in his first season in New York. He has two goals (one more than bruiser Colton Orr) and although he is the highest paid defenseman on the Rangers roster, he isn't even their best.
In fact Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Paul Mara, and Michal Rozsival have all out-performed Redden. He's soft defensively and has seemed at times like he doesn't even enjoy playing hockey.
But he isn't overpaid.
Redden's contract is similar to other defensemen who have had comparable careers. In 2007 Sheldon Souray signed a five-year, $27 million contract with the Edmonton Oilers. Also in that year, Lubomir Visnovsky inked a five-year, $28.25 million contract extension with the LA Kings.
In comparison, Redden's contract is one more year and an average of $1.5 a season more. It needs to be said that the reason for his slightly bigger contract is directly related to the fact that the salary cap rose significantly between the 2007 and 2008 seasons, thus allowing teams to allocate more resources to a single player than they previously could in 2007, when Visnovsky and Souray inked their deals.
Add in a bidding war with the Calgary Flames and that's how Redden comes to terms with a $39 million contract. He was the second highest paid defenseman in his free agent class. Brian Campbell, who is three years younger, signed an eight-year, $56.8 million deal with the Chicago Blackhawks. He was considered to be the best available offensive defenseman available that year, with Redden being the second.
It's supply and demand. In free agency, a club will almost always "overpay." That is the price and danger of relying on free agency for players.
With every one of these players mentioned, if their respective club didn't offer them those contracts, another club most certainly would have. The same goes for Scott Gomez and Chris Drury, two other Rangers players that many fans consider to be "overpaid."
It is up to the discretion of general managers to make a rational decision in the free agent market. In the case of Wade Redden, Rangers general manager Glen Sather completely failed. He didn't overpay Redden; Calgary's offer for him was almost identical. He just made a terrible decision to sign him.
This article is also featured on The Manic Ranger.