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Brad Richards feels like himself again

Oct 13, 2013, 12:50 PM EDT

Brad Richards Getty Images

The New York Rangers have very little they can be proud of so far this season, but forward Brad Richards is a different story.

While his team’s early struggles have dominated the fanbase’s attention, Richards has four goals and five points in five games. Not a bad start for a player that saw his standing collapse during the 2013 playoffs.

He might be one of the biggest benefactors of the Rangers decision to fire coach John Tortorella. Although new bench boss Alain Vigneault hasn’t initially been able to produce the results that the organization was hoping for, few players needed a fresh start as much as Richards.

So far he’s seized it.

“I feel like me,” Richards told the Bergen Record’s Andrew Gross after he fired a game-high eight shots on goal in the Rangers’ 5-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues last night.

There’s still a lot of time left for the Rangers to turn this around, but even if they can’t, Richards will have a lot of motivation to succeed. While he’s signed through 2019-20, the Rangers still have a compliance buyout left and they might opt to use it on Richards this summer.

They will have reason to consider it even if Richards has a great season because the 33-year-old’s roughly $6.7 million annual cap hit will start to look pretty bad as he moves further away from his prime. Additionally, if Richards decides to retire before his contract is over, the Rangers will be subject to a cap penalty.

So this is a potential contract season for Richards and so far it’s going well.

  1. stakex - Oct 13, 2013 at 1:00 PM

    Its nice to see Richards playing well again, but I think he’s gone before next season one way or another. If he continues to play well, he might become tradable and can be moved without using the Rangers last buyout (and might even bring a return). If he falls off again, he will be bought out. Either way, its hard to see him with the Rangers after this season…. but I guess anything is possible.

  2. 950003cups - Oct 13, 2013 at 1:21 PM

    Who’s gonna take that contract? Unless he puts up Gretzky type of numbers, he stays a ranger. The rangers aren’t gonna take a bad contract in return. That’s all you’ll get. Buying him out is gonna be one huge check, and that’ll risk him going to a divisional rival at an affordable cap. So they’re not gonna but him out if he shows signs of hope.

    • stakex - Oct 13, 2013 at 8:43 PM

      I don’t think that’s true when you look at a lot of the contracts GMs continue to hand out. Richards might not have the most friendly contract in the world given its length, but his cap hit isn’t massive. Also, despite how bad everyone acts like Richards has been (and he’s been bad)… he still hasn’t really under performed for his cap hit aside from the playoffs last year. During the regular season he still had 11 goals and 34 points in 46 games. Not amazing numbers, but pretty good for a guy everyone says had an awful year last year.

      In the end if the Rangers can trade Scott Gomez for Ryan McD when Gomez had a higher cap hit and was seriously under performing…. anything is possible. Should Richards have a 70ish point season, make no mistake, there would be teams that would be interested in him. The Rangers might not get much, and might even have to eat some cap, but they could move him.

      The real question is, if he has that kinda of year…. would they want to.

  3. gaborik104life - Oct 13, 2013 at 2:28 PM

    I can be completely off with this so don’t massacre me for this. If he continues to play relatively well (imo a point per game is unrealistic to continue) and teams are semi-interested in the sense that if the Rags were to retain some of his salary they would take him would it be a more sensible move to do this rather than buy him out?

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