Rangers won't buy out Brad Richards
Related mediaGet to know Brad Richards Get to know Alain Vigneault Rangers coaches through the years Rangers 2014: Keep 'em or dump 'em? Steve Zipay's Blue Notes
Despite struggling through the worst season of his 13-year NHL career, Brad Richards will be a Ranger for at least one more year.
The team will not buy out the final seven years of the center's $60-millon contract this summer, as Rangers president and general manager Glen Sather and his advisers clearly believe that the 33-year-old playmaker will rebound under new coach Alain Vigneault's style.
But the decision, announced Friday, is risky both short-term and in the long run.
Under the collective-bargaining agreement, the special compliance buyout option remains in place for next summer, when the Rangers could cut ties with Richards and eliminate the $6.7-million annual salary-cap charge for the remaining six seasons. But injured players are ineligible to be bought out. If Richards isn't eligible next summer, the Rangers would face significant cap-recapture penalties if he retired before the end of the contract, which runs through 2019-20.
Richards' diminished play forced former coach John Tortorella to demote him from the first line to the fourth line and bench him for Games 4 and 5 against the Bruins in the playoffs.
Richards had 11 goals and 23 assists in 46 games in the lockout-shortened season, scored one goal in 10 playoff games and frequently was unable to keep up with the pace.
Richards, who did not return a call seeking comment, will be paid $9 million this year as the cap ceiling lowers from $70.2 million to $64.3 million. The decision leaves the Rangers with about $14 million to sign restricted free agents Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh, Carl Hagelin and Mats Zuccarello, plus whichever unrestricted free agents they pursue.
"I'll be honest, I didn't feel normal all season," Richards said on breakup day. "I think I was in good shape to start the season in September, but everything was different after that . . . I've got to start over. I can control that . . . I signed here to be a Ranger longer than a year and a half and I still hope to do that."
At his introduction, Vigneault, who spoke briefly with Richards last week, called him "an outstanding individual."
In 2011-12, Richards had 25 goals and 41 assists in 82 games and added six goals and nine assists in 20 playoff games.
The Dolan family owns
controlling interests in the
Rangers, Madison Square
Garden and Cablevision.
Cablevision owns Newsday.