Blue Notes

Steve Zipay takes you inside the locker room, home and on the road, with the New York Rangers, and also writes about the NHL, off and on the ice.

Time to give Brad Richards his money and let him walk

Rangers center Brad Richards looks to make a

Rangers center Brad Richards looks to make a pass in the second period. (April 3, 2013) (Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan)

Maybe I’m missing something, but not quite sure about this theory that the loss of John Tortorella helps Brad Richards’ cause to NOT be bought out.

Tortorella hung on to his long-time compadre until the veteran center’s deteriorating play forced him to make a decision to demote and then bench him.  No choice. Would’ve happened sooner without their previous relationship from Tampa, methinks.

If Torts was still in New York, he might have fought to keep Broadway Brad for another year, arguing that training camp and a fresh start would revitalize him. In fact, I’m not sure that he and Sather didn’t go toe-to-toe on this.

But is a presumed third-line center worth $6.7 million a season for the coming years? And an injured player cannot be bought out, so the risk, (key word, risk) in waiting until next summer is enormous…Can No. 19 survive an 82-game season when he was shaky in just 48-plus?

Plus, the Rangers do need the dough, not just to pay their RFAs now and later, but to fund Lundqvist’s extension and other players in 2014-15, even though the cap may be a eventually be little higher. 

With Richards’ cap space, the Blueshirts could add free agents or execute a trade…perhaps a defenseman and a forward. Maybe a center, who is being bought out as well, will sign for far cheaper.  Vinny Lecavalier, anyone? I don't know, someone like Shawn Horcoff for a year?  

Richards, 33, will get his due over time (2/3 of what's remaining of his $60 million deal), and more, if he signs a more reasonable two-year deal with another club, perhaps Calgary, where former Lightning GM Jay Feaster holds court.

The buyout of $36 million  would cost $24 mil spread over 14 years.

The decision is in Sather’s hands, and can’t be official once the buyout period begins 48 hours after the Final ends. That could be late Wednesday (if the Hawks win the Cup tonight) to July 4, the day prior to free agency. Or it could start Friday, if there’s a Game 7.

If Slats wants a puck-moving, uptempo game and avoid a potential financial quagmire, he absolutely should cut Richards loose, and probably will.

It’s business, not personal.  And what’s the downside for either?

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