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Will the Rangers use a compliance buyout on Richards?

Dec 5, 2013, 12:34 PM EDT

Brad Richards Getty Images

With 20 points in 28 games, Brad Richards is the New York Rangers’ leading scorer.

There’s also a very good chance he could be bought out this summer.

“That’s the business we live in,” Richards told the Daily News yesterday about the potential for this season to be his last with the Rangers. “I wouldn’t change it for the world. We play hockey every day. That’s out of my control. But like I told you last year, I plan on playing the next six, seven years, and hopefully it’s all here (in New York). That’s never gonna change. If it does, you move on.”

The issue isn’t Richards’ play; it’s his front-loaded contract. The 33-year-old is signed through 2019-20 with a cap hit of $6.67 million. After this season is over, he’ll have already been paid more than half of the $60 million his deal is worth. A buyout would cost the club $18 million spread over 12 years — manageable for a financial powerhouse like the Rangers — and because it would be a compliance buyout, the team wouldn’t take a cap hit on any of those years.

With both Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi pending unrestricted free agents in need of new deals, general manager Glen Sather may choose the cap space a Richards buyout would free up over having the veteran in the lineup. Remember that Henrik Lundqvist just signed a $59.5 million extension, which starts next season.

Also remember that this summer is the last opportunity for clubs to use their two compliance buyouts. If the Rangers don’t use their last remaining one (they used their first on Wade Redden) on Richards, they’re essentially stuck with him, along with the potential cap recapture penalty they’d have to pay should he retire before his contract expires.

For example, via CapGeek:


Is a Richards buyout all but guaranteed? No, it’s not. Sather, after all, may be loathe to go into next season with Derek Stepan and, in particular, Derick Brassard as his top two centers. Though that assumes he doesn’t go out and acquire another one.

As we wrote yesterday, Sather has a number of pressing questions to answer now that Lundqvist has been locked up. Whether or not to buy out Richards is just one of them.

  1. lowenni - Dec 5, 2013 at 1:31 PM

    I think he will have to be bought out. I’m glad that he’s been able to get his career back on track (although he’s actually consistently been good for 60-70 point seasons since coming to NY each season) but his contract is too much. As the heart and soul of the team, they have to keep Callahan, and Girardi is one of their best defenseman. They won’t have enough money to keep those two without buying out Richards.

  2. ruthlessandtoothless - Dec 5, 2013 at 1:43 PM

    They have to.. Younger players like Stepan and Brassard(combined and in the future possibly just seperate) are cheaper and equal if not better options at this point. They need cap space for Callahan and Girardi and every team needs wiggle room to make trades if needed. Not to say Richards is playing horribly but he hasn’t been playing to his price tag and it is not very realistic to think he’ll be improving as he gets even further into his 30’s.

  3. lilgurgi - Dec 5, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    Many GM’s in the NHL are wringing their hands in anticipation to see what the Rangers do. Depending on how they hold up this season and/or what they plan on doing during the offseason I could see GM’s trying to swoop in with the “you may not like this deal, but it’s better than nothing when the player walks away”. Rangers have quite a few players that will be available one way or another potentially.

  4. stepanup - Dec 5, 2013 at 1:47 PM

    I don’t see any reason Richards is retained. Then again Sather’s proven to be predictably unpredictable. This year’s top UFA Centers: Thronton, Stastny, Grabovski, Roy, Santorelli, and Cammelleri (I think he’s played center in his career?) I don’t see the NYR getting involved in the Thornton sweepstakes, at least I wouldnt, but Stastny could be a 2nd line center. Point is, there are options, and I’d rather see that money spent elsewhere.

  5. xdj511 - Dec 5, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    Yes, of course he’s going to be bought out. Like the article said, they’re going to end up either paying a 40 year old Brad Richards a lot of money or taking a huge cap hit if he decides to retire instead. They only have one more chance to get out from under this contract, and they have to take that opportunity this summer. They’re not going to miss out on re-signing Callahan or Girardi because of Richards’ albatross contract eating up the necessary cap space.

    Richards has been good this year but in the new post-lockout landscape it’ll be easy enough to replace his production with another FA center or winger that they won’t have to give a lengthy contract to.

  6. ikillchicken - Dec 5, 2013 at 2:41 PM

    I’m confident that should the Rangers decide to buy out Richards they’ll be able to use some of that cap space to land an expensive, highly sought after free agent as a replacement…who will then promptly disappoint as he fails to live up to his massive contract just like Richards. Because this is what happens when you try to build a team in the salary cap era by constantly outbidding everyone else.

  7. 7mantel - Dec 5, 2013 at 6:14 PM

    Stupid contract from the beginning ! Buy him out and move on !

  8. andyreidisfat - Dec 5, 2013 at 7:29 PM

    Girardi would look very nice in black and orange if they keep Richards

  9. stakex - Dec 5, 2013 at 8:32 PM

    As I said the other day, I fully expect a Richards buyout. Even though he has played a little better this season, there is still a noticeable decline in his game from when he was signed. His speed just isn’t there, and his hands aren’t as good as they use to be. Keeping him would mean the Rangers are willing to gamble that his play won’t continue to fall off… and that would just be foolish considering the cap crunch the Rangers will have next year.

    There is one possible alternative however. It is possible, though unlikely, that Sather might find someone out there willing to take Richards if he continues to produce steady numbers. Again with what I just said about the guy I doubt it…. but if Montreal will trade Ryan McD for Scott Gomez, anything is possible.

  10. imacmanla77 - Dec 6, 2013 at 8:30 PM

    When the games catch uo with Richards, he will likely be back to the slowhand we saw last year. As it is, he plays like a guy on adderall anout half the games. I hope he keeps up the production, but some nights he looks like he is skating in mud. Taking the buyout would be like a gift for Sather. Free up the cash for some youth size and scoring. It’s my belief Tortorella exhausted the team last year, nit using the young guys enough, and had a Cup capable team dead on its feet in the Bruins series,

    The Rangers need a big trade this year like the two beauties Slats pulled off late in the year last year. Its all about some intimidation and a finisher. Without some brute force this squad will get battered in the playoffs. The refs hate New York, and our skill players will get held and mugged. Richards provides playmaking and the occasional goal when he’s got live legs. By March that wont be too often. Hes gone

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