The New York Rangers will use their last compliance buyout on Brad Richards after this season.
While it remains to be seen whether that will actually happen, the reality of the situation is that the Rangers have to do it.
Brad Richards came out of the gate firing. With five goals and eight points in the team’s first eight games, he looked like the guy that was brought in to help take this team to the next level. Even though he has not sustained this pace, if he had, it would not change anything. If Richards currently led the league in goals and was on pace to break all sorts of single season scoring records, the Rangers would still have to buy him out this summer.
It’s easy to say that if Richards really were to hit such accolades that there would be no way the Rangers get rid of him. Such an anomaly would certainly spark debate but ultimately money will talk.
It’s not that Richards is bad, it’s that his contract is.
That contract, the nine-year, $58.5 million albatross signed in the summer of 2011, carries a cap hit of $6,666,667 million through the 2020-2021 season. Yes, 2021. For as good as a player as Brad Richards is, he is marginally worth that contract now and surely won’t be as he enters his forties.
As per the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement, each team was granted two compliance buyouts (to be used no later than June 2014) where a player could be bought out without the money counting against the cap. To say that the Rangers are thankful for the last lockout would be wrong. However this opportunity to free up cap space is ultimately a blessing.
With the impending free agencies of Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi among others, additional cap space would be huge. Let’s just hope management takes advantage and gets out of Richards’ contract while there is a chance to do so.