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Three reasons why the Rangers might buy out Richards

May 23, 2013, 12:21 PM EDT

Brad Richards #19 of the New York Rangers controls the puck in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Final against the New Jersey Devils during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Prudential Center on May 21, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey.
(May 20, 2012 - Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

It hasn’t even been two years since the New York Rangers signed Brad Richards to a nine-year, $60 million contract, but the buyout speculation officially begins today as the 33-year-old has been made a healthy scratch for his team’s most important game of the season.

If the Rangers do decide to cut ties with the former Conn Smythe Trophy winner this summer, it will cost them $24 million over 14 years, per CapGeek.

Here are three reasons they might bite the bullet:

1. They could use the cap space

As part of the new CBA, each team gets two compliance buyouts to help adjust to next year’s cap, which is falling from $70.2 million to $64.3 million. The Rangers already have $51.5 million committed to next season, and that’s just for 18 players. Restricted free agents in line for significant raises include Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh. Carl Hagelin and Mats Zuccarello are also RFAs.

2. They’ve got Derick Brassard now

Brassard, 25, came over from Columbus as part of the Marian Gaborik trade. With 10 points in 10 playoff games, he leads the Rangers in postseason scoring. Richards is a top-six center, but right now he’s not playing better than Brassard or Stepan, two young centers with bright futures.

3. Best days behind him

If Richards is a healthy scratch at 33, where will he be in two years? Four? Compliance buyouts can only be used this summer and next. With a cap hit of $6.67 million, Richards’ heavily front-loaded contract doesn’t expire until after the 2019-20 season. And if they keep him and he retires early, the Rangers would pay a significant cap benefit recapture penalty (another element of the new CBA).

  1. jpelle82 - May 23, 2013 at 12:45 PM

    wow, i honestly had forgotten he had that kind of a contract. pretty crippling even if you do buy it out, doesnt a certain % still hit your cap? – then you gotta resign hagelin, stepan, mcdonough – good luck with that.

    • stakex - May 23, 2013 at 12:54 PM

      Compliance buyouts are free and clear. No cap hit.

      Besides, the Rangers have about $14 million to resign the three even with Richards. Thats plenty.

      • tdsnbeers - May 23, 2013 at 12:59 PM

        $12.8M – Thats not plenty, between Stepan and McDonough alone I am pretty sure they should be making 9 million. They have definitely justified their value, especially McDonough shutting down OV all playoffs.

      • stakex - May 23, 2013 at 1:08 PM

        Actually capgeek has their projected cap space at $13,555,833 for next year. Probably because if they re-sign Hags and Step they will be able to send someone else down and make a little more room (that would give them 13 forwards, and you only need 12).

        Again though, thats plenty. I expect McD to get about $5 million, Step will probably get $3-5, and Hags will be lucky to get $3 million. Tight no doubt, but very doable. Don’t forget also that with the lower cap this year, the amount players will be offered will be lower then the past few seasons.

      • jpelle82 - May 23, 2013 at 3:00 PM

        its a 23 man roster. usually 2 goalies 13-14 forwards and 7-8 dmen. mcdonagh should be poised to make between 4-5 million by himself, stepan and hagelin maybe combine for another 7-8 million and then you’re over – thats only 3 guys + the 18 already locked up = 2 more to sign to meet the 23 man requirement.

      • jpelle82 - May 23, 2013 at 3:39 PM

        let me clarify…its a 23 man max but pretty much every team keeps 23 guys. minimum is 20 and you can only dress 20 so if there’s an injury you will usually have the other 3 guys cycling in and out of the line-up. if you push just 20 guys to the cap limit, you’re just one injury away from disaster…

  2. tfaltin - May 23, 2013 at 12:47 PM

    If they can manage to keep the RFA’s and Richards for another year, then do that. I’d like to see what he and the rest of this roster can do in Broadway Blue with another coach. If the results still aren’t there, buy him out. If Torts stays (for the love of god no), then buy him out this summer.

  3. stakex - May 23, 2013 at 12:53 PM

    While they could use the space if Sather wants to play UFA roulette… they have about $14 million in cap space even if Richards somehow isn’t bought out. That should be enough to re-sign McDonagh, Stepan, and Hagelin (not sure if Zuc is going to be a Rangers next year). McDonagh is in line for a big deal, and Stepan should get a nice raise… but Hagelin isn’t going to command star level money.

    Now as for Richards, theres only really one reason to buy him out: Hes making $12 million this year and hes a healthy scratch in the most important game of the season. What other reasons do you need?

    The only way he stays is if the Rangers can use a compliance buyout next summer and they give him another season to bounce back. I think that might depend on what the UFA market looks like. If they won’t be able to get a good replacement for Richards, and they don’t need the cap space right away, Sather might roll the dice with him again next year…. knowing he still has another out.

  4. tdsnbeers - May 23, 2013 at 12:54 PM

    Hahahaha, what a pathetic loser, when buffalo sabres made an attempt to get richards and he mocked our team and city, I laughed at the dude and said he will suck anyways when he gets to the big city. So happy my team did not pick him up, worthless excuse for a hockey player. Go hit them with you purse Dbag.

    • stakex - May 23, 2013 at 1:01 PM

      The Sabers missed the playoffs the last two season, four of the last six, and haven’t been past the first round in seven seasons. Do you really blame him for not wanting to go there?

      • devilsarethebest - May 23, 2013 at 1:26 PM

        Rags haven’t had the best playoff luck recently either, eh?

      • idonthavethebloodyoucrave - May 23, 2013 at 1:31 PM

        And the Rangers have won one cup in 70+ years … so don’t kid yourself into thinking he was going to your team because they had a consistent history of winning. Just saying’.

        In reality, he signed with the Rangers for the money and to play in the market.

    • hockeyflow33 - May 23, 2013 at 1:22 PM

      I must have missed when Buffalo was a good team during the last few years

    • tycobbfromfangraphs - May 23, 2013 at 1:24 PM

      Buffalo is a dump,.they should build a wall around it so people in Niagara don’t have to see it when looking at the falls.

      If you ever want to see an Earthly representation of Heaven and Hell, go to the Canadian side of the falls. You’re standing in heaven and the comparative hell is just across the way.

      • tuberippin - May 23, 2013 at 6:44 PM

        I guess you’ve never been to Detroit, Newark, or Cleveland.

      • tycobbfromfangraphs - May 23, 2013 at 6:52 PM

        Alllllll dumps too

      • tuberippin - May 23, 2013 at 6:56 PM

        Worse than Buffalo was my point.

      • tycobbfromfangraphs - May 23, 2013 at 6:57 PM

        Not when you’re standing in Niagara

  5. elvispocomo - May 23, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    Is it ironic that Brassard could be the Rangers top center on a line with Rick Nash after all the time Columbus spent looking for a center to play with Nash while they had Brassard?

    • ntvd7 - May 23, 2013 at 1:59 PM

      Define irony :)

  6. dirt2013 - May 23, 2013 at 2:39 PM

    You would think that Richards should be tearing up the Eastern conference seeing how much better the West has been.Or so I have read.

  7. President Charles Logan - May 23, 2013 at 2:59 PM

    Just face it , he’s old and slow and spends too much time in a tanning bed

  8. hockeyfan763 - May 23, 2013 at 3:29 PM

    The Rangers have a replacement for Cream puff Richards already. His name is JT Miller. Good riddance , bring up the kid…..

  9. modellforprez - May 23, 2013 at 5:45 PM

    forget richards they need to buy out throw out. torts sucks

  10. hockeyflow33 - May 23, 2013 at 6:03 PM

    I thought the three reasons would be goals, assists and points

  11. cspsrbums - May 23, 2013 at 8:54 PM

    And NY City is just heavenly ?

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