Jun 3, 2014, 4:24 PM EST
LOS ANGELES — At the Rangers’ availability during Stanley Cup media day, Brad Richards‘ contract status was an unavoidable topic.
“I’ve thought about it a lot,” Rangers GM Glen Sather said when asked about Richards’ future in New York. “But it’s not something that we’re thinking about right now. We’re focused on what we’re doing, what the team is doing, how we’re going to play, who we’re playing against.
“Certainly haven’t thought much about it lately. But that decision will come in the summer. It’s like all the decisions, we’ve got lots of free agents to sign. We’re happy with the way it is right now.”
Richards, 34, has enjoyed something of a bounce-back campaign this year, the third of his nine-year, $60 million deal. He racked up 51 points in 82 games — third on the Rangers in scoring — and 11 points through 20 playoff games, averaging close to 17 minutes a night.
It is, as Richards put it, miles ahead of where he was last postseason.
“It was the lowest point of my career,” Richards said, reflecting on being a healthy scratch during last year’s second-round playoff loss to Boston. “You never want to be on the outside looking in when your teammates are battling in what I consider to be the best part of hockey — the playoffs.
“That situation, when you’re in it, it’s awful.”
The Richards buyout talk has been happening since John Tortorella parked him last May. The former Conn Smythe winner said Sather provided a vote of confidence during the offseason — “Glen said he didn’t want to buy me out, and it made [me] feel like they weren’t giving up,” Richards explained — but this summer marks the last window of opportunity New York has to use a compliance buyout on his deal.
Financially speaking, it might be tough to pass on the chance.
Sather has three key RFA negotiations on the horizon: Derick Brassard, Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello, New York’s leading scorer in the regular season. Veteran role players like Brian Boyle, Dominic Moore, Benoit Pouliot and Anton Stralman all need new deals as well and while some might be expendable, some have also proven vital to this current Cup run.
Looking further down the road, the financials are even trickier. Next year will see Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin go to restricted free agency, with Martin St. Louis and Marc Staal becoming unrestricted.
Which begs the question: Can New York continue to pay Richards $6.7 million a year until 2020? Or risk the potentially huge cap recapture penalty should he retire prior to fulfilling his deal?
Nobody is answering, and Richards insists this isn’t the time to dwell on it.
“I’ve been too busy,” he explained. It’s not the right time to think about it. It would hurt my game and it would hurt the team if I was worrying about it, so I haven’t really thought about it.”
He might not have, but others certainly are.
Nov 23, 2014, 2:30 AM EST
L.A. has won only once away from Staples Center this season.
Nov 23, 2014, 1:34 AM EST
Edmonton lost 7-1 on home ice. Six straight losses.
Nov 23, 2014, 1:01 AM EST
Nov 23, 2014, 12:28 AM EST
Washington lost out on a chance for three straight wins.
Nov 23, 2014, 12:01 AM EST
These teams play against Dec. 27.
Nov 22, 2014, 11:23 PM EST
Struggling is an understatement.
Nov 22, 2014, 10:56 PM EST
Meanwhile, Edmonton at risk of losing six straight.
Nov 22, 2014, 10:26 PM EST
Nov 22, 2014, 9:56 PM EST
New York takes both games of home-and-home set with Pittsburgh.
Nov 22, 2014, 9:23 PM EST
Difficult news for Washington.
Nov 22, 2014, 9:13 PM EST
Nov 22, 2014, 8:53 PM EST
Dealt with injury last season.
Nov 22, 2014, 8:32 PM EST
Fight didn’t last long.
Nov 22, 2014, 8:17 PM EST
“This is the biggest thing I’ve ever seen in my life with Toronto.”
Nov 22, 2014, 7:38 PM EST
Dallas has moved a trio of blue liners recently.
Nov 22, 2014, 7:09 PM EST
“Let the referees do their job, we’ll do our job.”
Nov 22, 2014, 6:31 PM EST
The St. Louis defender had an assist on the eventual winner.
Nov 22, 2014, 5:55 PM EST
Conflicting ideas on whether it was a fight or not.
Nov 22, 2014, 5:27 PM EST
In the rain, too, apparently.
Nov 22, 2014, 4:55 PM EST
“They embarrassed us pretty good in their building.”
- Firing Dallas Eakins ‘would be so unfair,’ says Taylor Hall 6
- ‘It sucks for us, it sucks for the fans’: Oilers losing skid hits six games 3
- Video: Milan Lucic calls Dalton Prout one-punch ‘gutless’ 30
- ‘We did not want to disrespect our fans’: Leafs salute supporters after beating Red Wings 3
- Video: Demers sends Stoll flying with massive open-ice hit 7
- Don Cherry on Leafs not saluting fans: ‘I couldn’t believe these guys would do something like this’ 14
- Report: Dan Hamhuis’ injury is significant, but not season-ending 5
- Been there, done that: Oilers lose five straight for second time this season 10
- Prout drops Lucic: ‘As far as I was concerned we were engaged in a fight’ 86
- Video: Prout drops Lucic with one punch 43
- Prout drops Lucic: ‘As far as I was concerned we were engaged in a fight’ (86)
- The Leafs didn’t salute their fans last night, so that’s a thing now (78)
- Jack Johnson filed for bankruptcy, parents allegedly took advantage of him (58)
- Wild put Harding on waivers (Updated) (52)
- After Voynov suspension, Lombardi wonders if teams need a ‘cushion’ in case a player is a ‘bank robber, kleptomaniac’ (51)