Fresh off yet another playoff disappointment, this one costing head coach John Tortorella his job Wednesday, the New York Rangers now have a difficult decision to make regarding the fate of top line forward and alternate captain Brad Richards.
After struggling mightily in 2013, notching just 11 goals in 46 regular season games, fans began questioning Richards’ future with the team. And his postseason effort (one point in 10 games before being benched for two) did nothing to squelch those critics, instead enhancing the argument that he should be bought out.
Even knowing that, it’s likely Richards will play for someone else. The best case scenario would have him signing with the Tampa Bay Lightning for a minimal amount.
While it’s true offense is a strength for the Lightning, I believe adding Richards could pose even more threats. He’s often used on the top two lines, and has been able to stay relatively healthy to this point (knock on wood). His power play numbers also aren’t bad, evidenced by the fact he tied teammate Rick Nash for third in that category this past season.
Since the top trio is pretty much set, with Steven Stamkos centering Martin St. Louis and Teddy Purcell, one has to believe Richards would skate alongside good buddy Vincent Lecavalier. That would actually be ideal given Ryan Malone‘s recent injury issues.
But the biggest reason Richards should consider returning to the Lightning is the fact he’s already won a championship here. Although it came way back in 2004, fans haven’t forgotten the way he took this team on his back and delivered an unforgettable performance, culminating with Conn Smythe trophy honors and Tampa Bay’s first ever Stanley Cup.
That being said, the Rangers haven’t made a final decision. Once they do, what better team for Richards to consider signing with than the Lightning?