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Top Five Not-So-Great Glen Sather Signings

Sep 29, 2010 – 7:57 AM
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Kevin Schultz

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When the Rangers bought out the contract of defender Wade Redden earlier in the week, it brought to a close the case of one of the worst free agent signings the team has made over the past decade. The Rangers have long been big players in the free agent market both under current GM Glen Sather and prior to his tenure. However, making a big splash in the free agent market does not guarantee on-ice success, as the team has made some questionable signings that have kept it from advancing past the second round of the playoffs since 1997.

In the summer of '08, Sather gave big money to Redden -- six years, $39 million -- and to say the move didn't work out is putting it nicely. With Redden now gone, there's probably no better time to take a look back and see where it ranks among the top five worst signings Sather has made.

5. Scott Gomez, Summer 2007 -- Seven years, $51.5 million
In July 2007 the Rangers made probably the biggest free agent splash of Sather's reign by netting both Chris Drury and Scott Gomez on the same day. Gomez's deal was two years longer and slightly more lucrative that Drury's deal. Neither totally filled expectations as a Ranger but Drury is the one still on the team and has been a leader in the room as captain.

In two years with the Rangers, Gomez never quite hit the marks he did across the river in New Jersey. He put up an impressive 70 points in 2007-08, but fell off the following year with only 58 points and a -2 rating -- the latter a tough mark for a two-way center like Gomez -- his worst offensive output since 2002-03. He did had five points in seven playoff games that year, but was -4 and the team decided to move on. Gomez put up nice numbers, but they certainly weren't $7-million-per-year numbers. That summer he was shipped off to Montreal for a package that included Chris Higgins.

4. Donald Brashear, Summer 2009 -- Two years, $2.8 million
Brashear is the least expensive signing on this list, coming in at only $1.4 million per year. Of course, that's a lot to pay an enforcer, but that's not why this signing didn't work out. Brashear's time on Broadway got off to the worst of starts as he was booed by the fans at a season ticket-holder meet-and-greet. That's what happens when you bring in a guy who helped knock out your team in the previous year's playoffs -- literally and figuratively. Most of the fan's resentment came from a nasty hit Brashear laid on Blair Betts. Of course, Brashear was also part of the Capitals team that came back from a 3-1 deficit to bounce the Rangers in the first round. It's probably not wise to sign a rival, especially when there's some recent bad blood.

On the ice, things didn't get any better for Brashear. He racked up 73 penalty minutes and one assist in 36 games. He fell into the coaches' dog house halfway through the year and was a healthy scratch many nights before finally getting put through waivers. He cleared and was traded to Atlanta, who bought out the final year of his contract. He's currently not employed or retired.

3. Darius Kasparaitis, Summer 2002 -- Six years, $27 million

In 2002, Sather brought in esteemed butt-kicker Darius Kasparaitis with the intention of adding some punch to the blueline. By the way, this was a team that had Matt Barnaby, Vladamir Malakhov, Dale Purinton and dressed Sandy McCarthy for 82 games (!). Kasparaitis was pretty solid, playing 80 games, racking up 85 minutes and 14 points with a positive rating. The team, however, missed the playoffs.

It was mostly downhill after that as Kasparaitis missed the second half of the 2003-04 season with a sprained knee. Then the lockout hit and Kaspar's style was relatively ineffective in the 'new' NHL. He would play 91 games in the two years following the lockout and was passed through waivers and demoted in January 2007, eventually loaned to a KHL team.

2. Wade Redden, Summer 2008 -- Six years, $39 million
And now we've reached the albatross of a contract that started this whole discussion in the first place. Redden and his contract have been a punchline for so long now, it's hard to find someone who doesn't know the story.

At the time, the contract didn't sound good and Redden was already overpaid at $6.5 million per before signing with the Rangers. In Ottawa, Redden was a 40-50 point offensive defenseman (emphasis on offensive) who regularly put up +20 ratings. Of course, Redden also played a lot on the power play with the likes of Dany Heatley, Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza so it's no wonder nearly two-thirds of his points came on the man advantage during his time in post-lockout Ottawa. You or I could probably get a dozen points if all we had to do was pass to those guys 5-on-4.

Anyway, Redden got to the Rangers coming off two down years in Ottawa, as the Senators started to decline after their run to the Final in 2007. He didn't break the 10-goal or 40-point plateaus his last two seasons in Ottawa and in his first full season with the Rangers he had all of three goals and 26 points in 81 games with a -3 rating and a measly six power play points.

That sound you heard was Rangers fans collectively slamming their heads against the nearest walls.

Of course, this wouldn't be the second-worst Sather signing if the story didn't get worse. In 75 games last season with the Rangers -- his second season in New York -- Redden notched exactly ... drumroll please... 14 points and two goals with exactly one point coming on the power play.

The Rangers and Sather waited until training camp to buy out Redden earlier this week. Maybe they just wanted to see their fans twist in the wind a little while longer, thinking that Redden would be back for a third season. If When Redden clears waivers, he has the option to play in the AHL, retire or play overseas.

1. Bobby Holik, Summer 2002 -- Five years, $45 million

Honestly, it's hard to believe that someone on this countdown was able to beat out Wade Redden. It was a close race, but the contract that is essentially the reason for the salary cap could not be denied. If you thought $4 million per for Kasparaitis was something, how about $9 million per for a tough, hard-nosed second- or third-line center who had:

A) Never scored 30 goals in a season
B) Never scored more than 65 points
C) Racked up about 100 penalty minutes a year while doing so.

And yes, I did say $9 million per year. To be exact, Holik earned a whopping $9.6 million in the first year of the contract, 2002-03, while the Rangers were finishing out of the playoffs. To put this in full perspective, Alexander Ovechkin has a $9.5 million cap hit this year with an actual salary of $9 million.

Let that sink in.

Of course, it's not fair to compare the value of a post-lockout average val contract to a pre-lockout let's-see-how-much-dough-we-can-throw-at-him contract, but I think that in a sport with the revenue potential of the NHL, paying about $10 million for a second-line player is insanity in any era.

Holik had only 35 points in 64 games his first year in New York. The next season, he put up the fourth-highest point total in his career all the while playing a full 82. After the lockout the Rangers used the new CBA to buy out his contract and the rest is history, or in this case an Atlanta Thrasher.
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