Everyone and their mothers knew the New York Rangers were thinking long and hard about buying out Brad Richards. Not as many people were expecting them to come to the decision they made Friday afternoon.
The Rangers have decided that they will not use their amnesty buy out on Richards. This comes after much speculation that the team was considering letting Richards go.
It is no secret that Richards struggled last season as he just couldn’t get up to speed after not playing during the NHL Lockout. This along with his horrid decision making made for a downright miserable season for Richards. Most Ranger fans were calling for him to be traded instead of Marian Gaborik at the trade deadline in April, but the Rangers held onto Richards and it only got worse from there. The most memorable and worst moment came when Richards was benched for the final two games of the playoffs against the Boston Bruins.
But keeping Richards makes a little sense. Alain Vigneault taking over as head coach could give Richards new life. In a new system he could rejuvenate his career and become the player he once was before coming over to the Rangers. The most likely reason the Rangers held onto Richards is because they want to get something in return for him. If anything, the Rangers are going to hope Richards gets off to a quick start in the first half of the season and try to move him in order to get some assets in return.
But this is too risky. In basically half a season last year Richards put up the worst numbers of his career. Why waste a year with him being a distraction when you could just get rid of him now? It is clear he won’t be the top center next year, and there’s a strong possibility he won’t be the number two center either. It makes more sense to get rid of his cap hit now and try to replace him with a young player like J.T. Miller or Derick Brassard.
The Rangers keeping Richards around is a safe move that is not popular with fans. The Rangers made a mistake in keeping Richards for 2013-2014.