New York Rangers‘ coach Alain Vigneault has decided to experiment with Brad Richards by putting him at the wing on the team’s first line. This move is a disaster just waiting to happen.
It is clear Vigneault is trying to get Richards off to a hot start. But Vigneault must also think about what is in the best interest of the team. Richards is too slow to be playing with players like Rick Nash and Derek Stepan. With Ryan Callahan returning, it is time reassess the lines. He his slowing them down and not helping to create the type of offense that the other two should be making. Richards would best serve as either a wing or a center on a second or third line. He is no longer a first-line talent.
Richards needs to get off to a good start in order regain some confidence moving forward. This is the main reason he paired with Nash and Stepan. If the first game of the season is any indication, it is clear Richards is not going to be a factor this year. The same problems that plagued him last year seem to still be there. He is slow and makes bad decisions with the puck. His confidence is shot. Glen Sather made a serious mistake by not buying out Richards in the offseason.
Richards has a huge contract that makes him impossible to trade for the Rangers. Unless he gets real hot, he will be in blue and red the rest of this year. So Vigneault needs to find a role that suits Richards or the team could end up suffering big time.