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Brad Richards to Rangers

Dallas' Brad Richards handles the puck in front

Dallas' Brad Richards handles the puck in front of Chicago's Patrick Sharp. Photo Credit: AP

No official confirmation from teams or the league, but multiple outlets reporting the deal and the numbers: Brad Richards to the Rangers for 9 years and $58.5 million.

So the Rangers seem to have reeled in the elite center they had been seeking when free-agent Brad Richards accepted a lucrative -- but apparently not the highest -- offer available to play in New York. The terms were not confirmed by the team or finalized, but multiple reports say it is a nine-year deal worth about $58.5 million -- a cap hit of $6.5 million per year.

The Kings, Maple Leafs, and Lightning also made multi-year offers to Richards, the only upper-echelon forward in the NHL free-agent market that opened yesterday, but Richards chose Manhattan and a reunion with the coach under which he won a Stanley Cup in Tampa in 2004.

Richards, 31, a playmaking pivot who was in Dallas for the last four years, agreed to a front-loaded contract. He is expected to center the top line with right wing Marian Gaborik and quarterback a power play that struggled last season. The Prince Edward Island native, who scored 91 points in 2009-10 and 72 in 77 games last season, rejected offers to be traded by management in order to test the free-agent waters.

The Rangers cleared some space for Richards when they bought out the final year of Chris Drury's contract -- with a $7 million cap hit -- on Wednesday.  They will have about $4 million remaining after they sign their restricted free agents. 

UPDATE

Kings president Tim Leiweke said in a statement: "We understood his desire to play out East and we did our best to overcome that. We wish him the best."
 

Richards also tweeted about his decision to sign with the Rangers:

Very happy to become a New York Ranger today!!! Playing at MSG will be amazing and looking forward to working with a great young teamless than a minute ago via Twitter for BlackBerry® Favorite Retweet Reply

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