Steve Valiquette Clears Waivers, Assigned to Hartford Wolf Pack

Rob CristinoCorrespondent IDecember 3, 2009

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 28:  Steve Valiquette #40 of the New York Rangers makes a save on the Pittsburgh Penguins in the third period at Mellon Arena on November 28, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Penguins won 8-3.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The New York Rangers placed backup goaltender Steve Valiquette on waivers in a surprising move on Wednesday, replacing their former backup with Chad Johnson from the Hartford Wolf Pack.

According to Andrew Gross of Ranger Rants, Valiquette has cleared waivers at noon and has been assigned to Hartford in order to continue with the original plan set out for Valiquette.

"We’d like to send [Valiquette] down on conditioning," coach John Tortorella said on Wednesday. "We want to get him down there playing and get his game back. It’s a tough situation for Valley. He hasn’t played a whole bunch. Sometimes your skills may diminish. It’s just been a little bit of a struggle for him. He works his butt off on the ice, but he hasn’t played much and I think that’s hurt him. He gets an opportunity to play some minutes and get his game back."

Through five starts for New York this season, Valiquette has struggled going 2-3-0 with a 3.74 GAA.

His last game—where he was hung out to dry in an 8-3 loss to the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins—was the nail in the coffin for Valiquette. In that game, Valiquette made just 25 saves on 33 shots.

That wasn't the only game of the young season in which Valiquette was torched by the opposition; he had also given up five goals on just 18 shots in a 7-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks back in October.

Valiquette’s main problem during his time with the Rangers has been his inability to keep his composure after allowing a crucial goal. Once his initial confidence is shaken, he will often allow goals in bunches. That has been evident on many occasions in the past, including the two games this season against Pittsburgh and San Jose.

Despite these flaws, Valiquette has shown at times that he can be a capable backup at the NHL level. That's why the move raises the question of whether or not Tortorella and company had made a premature decision in regard to Valiquette's status as the backup to Henrik Lundqvist.

Was this the right decision to make or should the Rangers have waited a little longer?

Note: By sending Valley down to Hartford, calling up Johnson, and acquiring Erik Christensen, the Rangers have put themselves into quite the dilemma. Check out the Rangers' current Salary Cap dilemma .

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