Jun 3, 2014, 4:24 PM EDT
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.
Mar 30, 2015, 12:01 AM EDT
Perron and Crosby scored in the shootout for the win.
Mar 29, 2015, 11:15 PM EDT
Chicago moves into third in the Central Division.
Mar 29, 2015, 10:10 PM EDT
He left the broadcast for stitches, but did return.
Mar 29, 2015, 10:02 PM EDT
New York snapped a seven-game home losing streak.
Mar 29, 2015, 9:16 PM EDT
Pastrnak scored the OT winner.
Mar 29, 2015, 8:20 PM EDT
Ottawa has lost three straight.
Mar 29, 2015, 7:55 PM EDT
Michael Ferland’s first NHL goal was the winner.
Mar 29, 2015, 6:51 PM EDT
Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
Mar 29, 2015, 6:25 PM EDT
Jimmy Howard is on in relief.
Mar 29, 2015, 6:05 PM EDT
Washington scored four unanswered to beat New York 5-2.
Mar 29, 2015, 4:54 PM EDT
Buffalo has the best odds of drafting him.
Mar 29, 2015, 4:17 PM EDT
Will he get one next season?
Mar 29, 2015, 3:28 PM EDT
They’ll play at 7:30 p.m. ET tonight.
Mar 29, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT
News and notes from around the crease…
Mar 29, 2015, 1:38 PM EDT
The Penguins defenseman suffered a concussion.
Mar 29, 2015, 12:55 PM EDT
Rau recorded at least 40 points in each of his NCAA campaigns.
Mar 29, 2015, 12:11 PM EDT
The good news is that he’s out of the hospital.
Mar 29, 2015, 11:29 AM EDT
He’s looking forward to the challenge.
Mar 29, 2015, 10:42 AM EDT
Roy coached the forward in the QMJHL.
Mar 29, 2015, 9:57 AM EDT
They’ll talk after the season.
- Blackhawks’ Sharp: ‘We knew we had to get two points’ 5
- Video: Brian Engblom takes a puck to the head 9
- Flames jump back into third in Pacific, beat Preds 6
- Letang concussed, Penguins will dress five defensemen 17
- NHL on NBCSN: Sharks desperate for wins, Penguins seek definitive end to slump 7
- Video: Bolts lose Garrison, Paquette in loss to Wings 4
- Bruins ruin Lundqvist’s return 28
- Video: Letang hospitalized after Doan hit (Update) 48
- Bruins chalk Rask’s absence up to dehydration (Update) 4
- Happy returns: Datsyuk plays for Detroit 2