As we came into the summer, it was widely assumed that the New York Rangers would be among the first teams to use a compliance buyout when the window opened, as Brad Richards looked like a goner. Coming off of a miserable season, it was have surprised virtually no one.
But the window has been open several days, and Richards is still residing on Broadway, with the Blueshirts having since come out and say that they aren’t going to use their second buyout this summer, meaning Richards will have at least one more year to try and bounce back with the Rangers.
And that’s the right move. There’s really no sugarcoating how bad Richards was in 2013. Aside from a stretch towards the end of the regular season, he was a ghost for the Rangers throughout most of the year. If you take out the 11 points he had in the final six games of the season, he had only 23 points in 40 games for New York. Not exactly what you’d expect from someone making $6.67 million until 2020.
This year, both the regular season and the playoffs, saw Richards spend plenty of time on the fourth line, as well as serve as a healthy scratch during the postseason. Given the length of the contract that he signed two summers ago, the assumption was that he was a goner down on Broadway.
But then the Rangers surprisingly parted ways with head coach John Tortorella, who obviously was not Richards’ biggest fan. Replacing him with Alain Vigneault provided a second chance for Richards, as the Rangers want to see if he can thrive in a new system with a new, (somewhat) less controversial head coach.
Teams can use these buyouts through next summer, so if Richards is unable to bounce back, then they can cut him loose in a year. But this is still a guy capable of putting up 50 or 60, or perhaps more, points from the top six when being correctly utilized. Giving him one more year under a new head coach, after you’ve invested so much in him, is absolutely the right move for the New York Rangers.