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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.

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Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. M. Richards (2657)
  2. P. Kessel (2297)
  3. Z. Kassian (2270)
  4. S. Voynov (2074)
  5. B. Saad (2069)
  1. R. O'Reilly (1945)
  2. B. Richards (1826)
  3. A. Sekera (1815)
  4. D. Hamilton (1757)
  5. M. Green (1733)