I will never understand this Organization or Glen Sather. The New York Rangers have decided to not use their final compliance buyout on Brad Richards. I am not going to be irrational in this article simply because it would be very unfair to Brad Richards. You also never know what can happen and maybe he can win his second Conn Smythe next season. (Imagine?) But based on stats and the salary cap I believe it was a mistake to keep Richards a Blueshirt next season. Here are my reasons why:
1) Not Worth The Contract- Let’s say Richards is good under AV and he has a bounce back season. Richards will only tally 60-70 points based on his prior seasons of play. His productivity has gone down ever since he went to Dallas. Now he is 33 years of age and the lockout killed his game last season. He may bounce back but that is what he would be on pace for if he has a good season. For 6.6 million dollars I do not think that is worth it. It is very unlikely Richards will surpass that point total. He also will probably be a 3rd line center next season considering how good Brassard and Stepan were last season for the Rangers.
2) Cap Hit- Richards has a cap hit of 6.6 million dollars this season. That gives the Rangers 13 million dollars to re-sign McDonagh, Stepan, Hagelin, Zuccarello, and Clowe. Odds are Clowe and Zuccs will be gone due to Richards contract. It will also be difficult in the future, specifically next year when the Rangers have to re-sign Del Zotto, Girardi, Callahan, Moore, and Lundqvist. I also now believe a defenseman will be traded due to keeping Richards. With Richard’s contract as well the Rangers are up against the cap and will not be able to make any big moves at the trade deadline next season because of their financial situation.
3) Performance- The Rangers fully believe they are a better team with Richards in the line-up. But are they? Richards regressed so much last season. Is it possible that he can make this team better? Can he bounce back? Only time will tell but I thought the Rangers would have been better off with Stepan, Brassard, Boyle, and either Miller or Lindberg making the team as the fourth line center. Both of those players are more than capable of making this Ranger team. But the Rangers want Richards and still see something in him. Another reason that leaves me to believe he will not be effective is that Tortorella gave him a lot of opportunity to succeed. Torts gave him the biggest leash out of all his players. He played with Nash, had top PP minutes and was not able to really be the elite player he once was. I don’t know what AV will do differently that Tortorella did with Richards. Richards had all the leeway and was not able to make a lot happen.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Richards has heart and is a proud professional. He WILL bounce back next season but based on his career right now his bounce back season will only see him registering 60-70 points. I still say that it is not worth 6.5 million dollars particularly when you are deep at the center position and when you have to re-sign all of the players the Rangers have to sign in the next few seasons. I think this a full mistake on Sather’s hands but time will tell if this was a smart move or not.