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Freed from Rangers, Brad Richards expected to have suitors

Rangers' Brad Richards smiles as he looks to

Rangers' Brad Richards smiles as he looks to teammates during the first period against the Chicago Blackhawks. (Jan. 8, 2014) Credit: AP

I doubt you've seen the last of Brad Richards.

The 34-year-old center (or even left winger), now an ex-Ranger after his long-expected buyout was confirmed by Newsday a few hours ago, certainly wants to keep playing. But where exactly that will be -- and at what discount -- is somewhat out of his control as a free agent on July 1.

To be clear, Richards can still put up some numbers, just not as a first or second liner as the season goes deeper, and cannot realistically be paid the big money (and carry a $6.67 million cap hit) as he did with the Rangers. He did put up 59 goals and 151 points since 2011, which is worth noting.

About half that money for a year or two, especially with a team full of youngsters needing a mentor and with valuable experience on the power play, if not always 5 on 5, where he was often behind the play and slipping defensively?  Why not?

He did push himself physically last summer -- after sliding backward during the lockout shortened season, which he described as a nightmare -- and improved. Maybe he can regroup again this summer, although the time is far shorter.

So which teams might talk with Richards, a pro in the room, who was liked by both the media and his teammates?

The guess here will be teams (and not necessarily contenders) who may or may not need to reach the higher salary floor. Panthers? Devils? Or could Richards be a depth center on a wanna-be contender like Toronto?

Financially, Richards is fine, with another $20-plus million due him over the next 12 years, plus what he's earned in Tampa and Dallas and with New York.

His fiancee is pregnant, and he's mused several times about retirement down the road (he'd play plenty of golf, for sure), but he's got at least another season in him before taking that path. 

New York Sports