The New Jersey Devils, at first glance, don’t need any more depth at center. Andrei Loktionov emerged on the top line, Adam Henrique is a young playoff hero and should continue to get better and Travis Zajac signed a lengthy deal this offseason. The CBJB fourth line may have been the Devils’ best line this season and certainly doesn’t need to be changed.
Still, the New York Rangers have a center in Brad Richards that could hit the open market through the post-lockout amnesty clause, and the Devils desperately need to improve their top six.
Richards signed an impossibly long and expensive contract before falling apart this year for the Rangers. In the 2013 playoffs, Richards has been relegated to fourth line minutes after failing to produce. Still, he could be an effective center with the right team, it just seems apparent that the Rangers and Richards don’t work.
John Tortorella is famous for putting his best players in the doghouse, benching top talent to prove a point after a mistake. He jettisoned Marion Gaborik after repeatedly hiding the talented scorer on his bench when his aggressive play backfired. With Richards finding himself on the bench in a system that never really fit his style of play, it would make sense if the Rangers used their amnesty clause to get below the new salary cap.
Though Richards and Torts worked well together in the past, the duo is failing now.
The Devils would be a great fit for Richards. He could play alongside one of the game’s most dynamic scorers in Ilya Kovalchuk, and in a system that stresses aggression, Richards wouldn’t have to worry about riding the pine.
It’s clear that Brad Richards needs out of New York — why not take the PATH over to New Jersey this offseason? If the Devils offer two years, $8.5 million to the possible soon-to-be free agent, it could work out well for both sides.