ST. LOUIS — Looking for additional help on defense, the St. Louis Blues took an affordable gamble Friday on longtime NHL veteran Wade Redden.
The one-year, pro-rated contract worth $800,000 is pending a physical Redden will take Sunday. Redden, 35, who has been skating with a junior team in Kelowna, British Columbia, is expected to join the Blues as early as Saturday.
"I know where he's been skating, I know the drills he's been doing, I know how hard he's been working," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "He's in great shape, so he's like everybody here. We'll see how quickly he can get up to speed."
The Blues signed Redden one day after the New York Rangers used an accelerated compliance buyout that will pay him $3.341 million this season, plus two-thirds of the $5 million he is owed for next season.
The Rangers had to put Redden through waivers before making that move.
"I know Wade very well," Hitchcock said. "I was on the (Team Canada) coaching staff when he was in the Olympics and World Championships and stuff like that. He's a stay-at-home dependable defenseman that can play both ends of special teams."
That being said, the 6-foot-2, 212-pound defenseman hasn't played an NHL game since April, 2010. He did have 10 goals and 50 points in 2005-06 with the Senators, but his numbers have been on the decline ever since.
From 2008-10 with the Rangers, he had five goals and 40 points combined in 156 games.
Redden spent the last two seasons with the Rangers' American Hockey League affiliate in Connecticut, where he had four goals and 20 points in 49 games last season. He was lured from the Ottawa Senators in 2008 when the Rangers signed him to a six-year, $39 million free-agent deal.
He last played in the NHL during the 2009-10 season, when he had two goals and 14 points in 75 games with the Rangers.
In the last two seasons in the AHL, Redden had a combined 12 goals and 62 points in 119 games with Hartford and Connecticut.
Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong spoke earlier in the week about wanting more depth on defense. The team on Friday released veteran defenseman Colin White, who had been brought in on a pro tryout.
"He has worked long hours skating and working in Kelowna and he is in physically great shape, fit as hell," Hitchcock said of Redden. "He'll help us. He's a good player. He's going to play and play on the left side. Where and how, we'll work that out later."
Hitchcock obviously got a good line of information on Redden, who had fallen completely out of favor with the Rangers.
"He's got smarts, he's got a good stick, he knows how to play the game," Hitchcock said. "He's very, very good on the power play."
In 994 career NHL games, he has 106 goals and 450 points along with 654 penalty minutes.
"If you want to second-guess Doug Armstrong, I think he's proven a lot of people wrong on his moves," Blues captain David Backes said when asked about bringing in Redden. "He's doing it to making our team better and we're looking forward to having Wade in the room. He's a guy that's seen as a guy that really can play. As soon as we can get him dialed in and playing, the better off we'll be."