The New York Rangers have had much larger issues than anyone could have expected this season. After acquiring Rick Nash over the summer, they were expected to run away with the Eastern Conference crown and potentially a Stanley Cup. At this point, not even a playoff spot in guaranteed.
What would help the Rangers in their quest to lock down at least the eighth seed in the East, if not higher, would be if Brad Richards found his game at some point in the very near future. After signing a very lucrative long-term contract last summer, the buyout talk has already begun for Richards.
Richards has struggled quite a bit this year, not only to perform, but to stay in the top six. He’s bounced all around the lineup, as the coaching staff has made an effort to light a fire somewhere that would help him find his form from last season. He hasn’t been anywhere near the 66-point player he was last season.
In 41 games this season, Richards has just 25 points, including only seven goals. He’s remained right around his career averages as far as his success rate at the faceoff dot, but he hasn’t been able to put up the offensive numbers on a consistent basis. One has to wonder if he’ll be able to find his game in time for the postseason.
His recent performance could be a pretty decent indicator that he’s starting to climb out of his slump. He has four points in his last two games, with two goals in his most recent performance. Could that help propel him to become the consistent player he’s always been over the course of his career?
Regardless of when it happens, the Rangers are really going to need Richards to step it up before the postseason. If he doesn’t, it could mean an early exit and an almost certain buyout for the veteran forward.