Well that didn’t take long.
The NHL‘s new collective bargaining agreement includes a clause that will allow a team two contract buyouts. The New York Rangers already used one when they cut Wade Redden loose. It was only a matter of time before that talked jumped to the guy who just signed a nine-year deal.
In the summer of 2011, Brad Richards was the most coveted free agent in a thin market. He ended up agreeing to that nine-year contract that came with a $6.67 million cap hit. The deal is obviously front loaded as well.
Playing in a market like New York is going to heighten expectations, which Richards is not as used to, given that he played in markets like Tampa Bay and Dallas prior to joining the Blueshirts. It’s not even that he had a bad season last year. In fact, it’s one that most players would take in a heartbeat.
Richards finished the season with 66 points, playing in all 82 games. That’s a solid season. Just not up to par from a player that signed a contract like Richards signed. This year, he’s off to a much quieter start. And it’s starting to lead to increased speculation over whether or not the Rangers could look to buy him out.
There’s no doubt that a buyout for Brad Richards is a possibility. With a shrinking cap, the Rangers are going to be in some trouble in trying to bring back some of their current players. Which means that a buyout to save money on a contract like Richards is something that will be explored.
That doesn’t make it likely, though. If Richards can get back to the form he showed prior to signing with the Rangers, with 168 combined points in the two seasons prior, then he doesn’t have anything to worry about. But with 13 points in 20 games, including just two goals, you can bet that this speculation will only get stronger as the season rolls on.
It’s still early, but keep an eye on that situation.