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‘Gut feeling’ Rangers keep Richards, says agent

Jun 17, 2014, 1:04 PM EDT

Brad Richards Getty Images

Pat Morris, the agent representing Rangers forward Brad Richards, has spoken to Glen Sather in the wake of New York’s Stanley Cup Final loss to L.A.

Based on what he’s heard, Morris has some optimism that Richards will be a Blueshirt next season.

“Gut feeling, it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s kept,” Morris told Sportsnet’s Fan 590 on Tuesday. “Glen was pretty positive about Brad’s role this season, especially after [former Rangers captain Ryan] Callahan left.”

Though he admitted potential bias given he was speaking about his client, Morris pointed to a number of reasons why New York would, and should, keep Richards in the fold. He said Richards’ 51 points this year would’ve made him a top-three scorer on “around 20” NHL teams (I did the math, and that number’s actually 14 teams) and said that, through the first three rounds of the playoffs, Richards was lauded for his leadership and essentially filled the role of New York’s vacant captain position.

But then the Stanley Cup Final happened.

Richards’ numbers in the five games against the Kings were ugly — no goals,  one assist, minus-4 rating and a demotion midway through the series. It’s something Morris alluded to in speaking with Sportsnet.

“After Game 2, [Richards] is an automatic buyout and ended up on the fourth line,” he said, referring to how quickly perceptions of his client changed.

The biggest issue, of course, has nothing to do with Richards’ regular season or playoff. It’s all about the money — both his hefty $6.6 million cap hit (combined with the fact the Rangers have 11 players to sign) and the potential cap recapture penalty for his back-diving contract. Richards’ nine-year, $60 million deal pays $57 million in salary in the first six years, and just $1 million over the final three seasons — so, should Richards retire prior to fulfilling the duration of the contract, the Rangers would be hit with gigantic penalties:

It’s something Morris acknowledged, noting the on-ice part of the Richards decision is completely separate from the financial part.

“It’s in the Rangers’ hands,” Morris explained. “[If it’s] a hockey decision I think they keep him, if it’s a business decision they might not. There’s not really any pleasant ways for the Rangers to look at this.”

Related: Will the Rangers use a compliance buyout on Richards?

  1. petersteelewannabe - Jun 17, 2014 at 1:09 PM

    As a Flyers fan, please, please, please let Pat Morris’s “gut feeling” prove true…

  2. billiam55 - Jun 17, 2014 at 1:13 PM

    omg if we dont buy richards out i am going to be a very angry NYR fan. We need to focus on signing other key players.

    • 7mantel - Jun 17, 2014 at 5:16 PM

      You and me both !

  3. oquintero99 - Jun 17, 2014 at 1:43 PM

    Brad Richards is a good player. I don’t think he shines in a big-spot team. He thrived in Dallas and in TB. Maybe a low exposure market would help him get back on track.

    • stepanup - Jun 17, 2014 at 2:48 PM

      Do you skate faster on ice sheets in non-traditional markets?

    • Hard to BeLeaf - Jun 18, 2014 at 6:00 AM

      He got injured pretty seriously in Dallas. They wanted to trade him during his last year there, but couldn’t because of the injury. Then the next summer was when NY signed him. He hasn’t been the same player at all.

  4. bwayblueshirt - Jun 17, 2014 at 1:46 PM

    Richards is without a doubt a guy who can help get you to the playoffs. He just can’t help you once you’re there. He very obviously ran out of mental and physical stamina right around the middle of the ECF and was consistently a problem on the PP. He might be worth $3-4 million, but not almost $7. Not buying him out would be an egregious error (otherwise known as Glen Sather’s favorite kind).

    • imleftcoast - Jun 17, 2014 at 6:54 PM

      Larry Brooks wrote what actually is an interesting article. His last paragraph is far more interesting than this posting of an agent quote to generate comments:

      • buckhome - Jun 18, 2014 at 3:04 PM

        Larry Brooks is an idiot

  5. 19to77 - Jun 17, 2014 at 1:46 PM

    “There’s not really any pleasant ways for the Rangers to look at this.”

    Ain’t that the truth. Throw money at him to sign elsewhere, or throw even more money at him to stay and be terrible, then probably retire early and hammer them with cap recapture fees.

    • thesportsjudge - Jun 17, 2014 at 5:11 PM

      Don’t forget occupy a roster spot where a young guy could get experience. Granted, I know it is sort of implied in your statement, but I think it is a point on its own.

  6. tmoore4075 - Jun 17, 2014 at 1:47 PM

    I think his gut is wrong. You just can’t do it in the cap world. If they don’t, then who do they buyout? Nash? I know people don’t like that Nash was nowhere in the finals but he has more upside right now than Richards.

  7. jcuervo962002 - Jun 17, 2014 at 1:48 PM

    I’d really like to see NY find a way to dump BOTH Nash and Richards, via trade and/or buyout, before the draft. Free up that 15 million for some resigning and upgrades. Thats steep hill to climb, but a kid can dream.

  8. rsl22 - Jun 17, 2014 at 1:49 PM

    He’s 34, has had 4 straight seasons of declining point production, and has nine years left on his contract.It would be a very questionable decision to keep him instead of using their get-out-of-jail free card.

    If the Rangers don’t buy him out, regardless of what happens in the 2014-15 season, in 2015-16, they look like they might be a disaster…they will have only six guys signed for $41MM, with five of those six having no trade clauses. Can any team win with Nash and Richards as your two star forwards, and then 10 more $1-2MM guys?

  9. trolltoll11 - Jun 17, 2014 at 1:51 PM

    Richards had a great comeback year after the dismal 12/13 campaign however he will be a cap causality. Simply too many players to lock up not to buy him out.

    Anyone else going through hockey withdraw?

  10. geejon - Jun 17, 2014 at 1:53 PM

    HIs agent is just doing his job. He knows there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell the Rangers keep that contract on their books. $7 mil per for “‘leadership” … I’d rather someone whose game hasn’t slipped so bad that he was a healthy scratch in last year’s playoffs and dropped to the 4th line in this year’s.

  11. smarshall3789 - Jun 17, 2014 at 2:45 PM

    I’m no Rangers fan but really you’re gonna keep this guy. I know it’s not a great FA class but still 7 mill for this guy. They have so many key peices to re sign and they will need the cap space. I’m sure you can find someone in FA with his production for half the cost. Keep him that’s fine when you can’t sign your keys peices I’m sure
    Other teams like my wings would love to have Boyle Stallman Zu and ect

  12. hosewater2 - Jun 17, 2014 at 3:13 PM

    They’re gonna buy him out, Sather needs to clear space for the huge offer to Ville Leino we all know is coming.

  13. jonnyhammersticks - Jun 17, 2014 at 4:41 PM

    He really wasn’t that bad in New York and was an unfair scapegoat at times because of his contract, but the writing was on the wall from day one of that signing.

    If Sather wants to keep this core together then Richards has to be bought out. I guess technically it could also be Nash but I can’t see that happening.

    • stakex - Jun 17, 2014 at 5:27 PM

      Actually he was pretty bad. In the last two regular seasons he has had: 31 goals and 54 assists for 84 points in 128 games. While that is livable given his contract, his playoff numbers are down right pathetic over the last two years: 6g, 7 assist in 35 games. He’s being paid far too much for him to put up those kind of bricks in the playoffs… and his overall performance is continuing to decline meaning he isn’t likely to play any better going forward.

  14. thegronk87 - Jun 17, 2014 at 5:02 PM

    Berman: it is my pleasure to present the stanley cup to captain dustin brown….

    • 7mantel - Jun 17, 2014 at 5:18 PM

      get over it loser !

  15. rpiotr01 - Jun 17, 2014 at 5:27 PM

    “Gut feeling: that Nigerian prince I met over email is really going to come through and send me a nice chunk of his fortune like he said he would.”

    – Pat Morris

  16. stakex - Jun 17, 2014 at 5:30 PM

    What else does anyone expect his agent to say? Of course he’s going to talk as nice about his client as possible, and make it sound like his play doesn’t warrant a buyout. So once it does happen (and its going to), he can sell his client to other teams as a good player that was simply a victim of circumstances.

  17. tommydugan39 - Jun 17, 2014 at 6:35 PM

    Richards will not be a ranger next year. He has experience but does not like to take hits and is really playing a scared pretty boy game of hockey. Let him go ruin another team, we had enough…. Cure the cancer…..

  18. killerpgh - Jun 17, 2014 at 7:55 PM

    Richards has a NMC so if the Rangers decide to buy him out he can waive that and go through waivers and hope another team picks up his contract. A budget/cap floor team might take that risk since is due to make 27 million over 6 years (4.5 million average) but still get his cap hit at 6.667 million. This might be worst case scenario for the Rags since they could than get nailed to the salary cap recapture penalty if he retires and doesn’t finish out the contract.

    • newyorkislanderfancentral - Jun 17, 2014 at 11:05 PM

      Did you go to the James Dolan school of business? You cannot waive being bought out by your own team.

      Hopefully Sather really is stupid enough to keep his 60m dollar 4th line goalie/forward/lockeroom talker but if not he will be placed on waivers for the purposes of an amnesty buyout.

      After that he has no contract, and is free to sign with anyone but Sather and the Cablevision Rags for the next year.

      And another goalie/forward will be brought in not to score but lay down in front of Flukeqvist and play for 15 shot games where pucks deflect past as he stares down his teammates.

      • killerpgh - Jun 18, 2014 at 1:20 PM

        If a player has a NMC he doesn’t have to go through waives in order to be bought out like a player w/out a NMC. If he doesn’t want to go through the waiver wire he just exercises his NMC skips the waiver process and it’s on to the buyout.

  19. newyorkislanderfancentral - Jun 17, 2014 at 9:57 PM

    No article ever put it as perfect as this video to sum up Richards, Sather and the Rags.
    from 2011:

    Another converted forward goalie who fell apart under Flukeqvist trap….Drury gave good interviews too, so did Holik and captain ego to miss the playoffs.

    Sing it, our gm will sure overpay you but the coach may not play you., now your in New York………….there is no need for a tryout but you might get a buyout…..

    • bmy0913 - Jun 18, 2014 at 10:53 AM

      Spoken like a true Isles fan.

      • newyorkislanderfancentral - Jun 18, 2014 at 10:11 PM

        Even our team beats Emery, concussed Mason, Fluery (without Vokoun) and Dustin Tokarski thank’s to Jessiman jr running goalies.

        Flukeqvist could not stop whining when he five goalies imploded and we won twice at home in Manhattan last season scoring five goals on the overstuffed one and the goalie who kept you in contention (Talbot) with an 8-2 record while Fluke was well under five hundred and sitting out because of the competition and his contract.

        Those articles on how much Nash cares and how hard he tried with his improved defense are priceless.

        Yashin makes Richards look like Trottier by comparison at Cablevision.

  20. rupp246 - Jun 19, 2014 at 7:46 PM

    Ranger fans don’t worry, his agent is drinking the kool aid. There is no way Richards is on the team next year, no possible way.

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