ST. LOUIS -- The last time Wade Redden suited up in a National Hockey League uniform, it was difficult to imagine at the time it would take that roughly three years to put on a jersey again.
The 35-year-old defenseman, who signed a pro-rated one-year, $800,000 contract with the St. Louis Blues last week, will make his return to the NHL when they face the Nashville Predators on Thursday night (8 p.m. ET).
The wait is finally over, and Redden is glad to put the ordeal with the Rangers behind him after spending the past two seasons in the American Hockey League with the Connecticut Whale.
"It's been a while, but I've obviously been playing still," said Redden, whose last NHL points ironically came against the Blues when he scored a goal and added an assist on March 18, 2010. "The AHL is not the same level, but it's still a pretty good league. It's obviously a lot different atmosphere and I'm looking forward to being a part of it tonight again."
Redden (6-foot-2, 205 pounds) is a 13-year NHL veteran. He was the No. 2 pick by the New York Islanders in 1995 and has played in 994 NHL games, posting 106 goals and 450 points.
Redden spent 11 years with the Ottawa Senators, but in 2008, he signed a six-year, $39 million free-agent contract with the Rangers but failed to live up to the deal, posting two goals and 14 points in 75 games in 2009-10. He's been out of the League since.
Redden had been buried in the Rangers' minor league system, where he made $6.5 million in each of the past two seasons, compiling 12 goals and 50 assists in 119 games.
"He's a veteran guy who knows how to manage his game and he's smart," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "I think he'll do just fine.
"I'm proud of him that he stayed with it, proud of him that he's getting a second opportunity like this. He was a very good player, a very dependable player. He played with arguably one of the best defensemen ever in the game in (Zdeno) Chara (in Ottawa). They were a great pair, they were great on the power play, they were dynamic for a number of years. Both guys kind of went in different directions."
Chara went on to win a Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins and is their captain. Redden is looking to make a climb back to respectability.
"It feels great," Redden said. "I've been around the team here for a few days. It feels good to be around and get going.
"It's a chance to come back and show I can play and just be a part of the team. We've got a good team here. I'll try and help the team win and have some success."