Chicago Blackhawks center Brad Richards defends the puck against Tampa...

Chicago Blackhawks center Brad Richards defends the puck against Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Nikita Nesterov during the third period on Friday, Feb. 27, 2015, in Tampa, Fla. Credit: AP

Free agent-to-be Brad Richards, who was bought out by the Rangers last summer, wants to play somewhere next season.

"I feel probably healthier than I have in three or four years," said Richards, who will turn 35 in May, "just because it's a different role. I'm not playing the minutes I have in the past. The health part's not the issue. As long as you keep having the passion to play and finding the right place to play."

The center, who signed a one-year deal with Chicago last July, has six assists and no goals in the past 23 games. He said his season "hasn't really taken off maybe the way I envisioned it, but it hasn't been bad, either."

In Sunday night's 1-0 overtime loss to the Rangers, Richards played 12:07, including 3:01 on the power play, and had two shots on goal. He has nine goals and 23 assists in 63 games.

"I had a lot of fun playing with Patrick Kane [before Kane fractured his left collarbone], good chemistry; that's a big loss for our team and me," he said.

Richards served as the Rangers' de facto captain after Ryan Callahan was traded to Tampa Bay last March but took a backseat with the Blackhawks.

"Last year was kind of a natural thing, to try to help out," he said. "Until Marty [St. Louis] came in, I was the oldest guy. Here they've got a lot of guys who've done a lot of winning. I've been around long enough to know when not to step on toes."

As for the Rangers' current captain, Ryan McDonagh, Richards spoke about him with coach Alain Vigneault after the season.

"He's still a young guy. He's going to learn so much more," Richards said. "I haven't been around, but at 24, I do know his personality, he's not a rah-rah guy, he's very respectful. I'm sure as time goes by, he's going to grow more and more in that role, and he's got a good support staff with Marty and [Rick Nash] . . . and Henrik's a big presence in that locker room."

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