NHL New York Rangers

Will New York Rangers Buy Out Rick Nash Instead Of Brad Richards This Offseason?

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

With the NHL regular season coming to a close, and with the New York Rangers falling in the standings, the Rangers’ offseason might be coming up sooner than one previously had expected.

Last offseason, Rangers fans, and hockey fans in general, were shocked that Rangers GM Glen Sather did not choose to amnesty Brad Richards and buy him out of his contract after an absolutely dreadful lockout season in 2012-13, where he scored 11 goals and had 23 assists in the regular season and then followed that up with only one goal and zero assists in 10 playoff games. The season just became so bad for Richards that he actually became a healthy scratch in the last two Rangers’ playoff games before they were eliminated in Round 2.

This season, Richards started off hot, racking up goals and assists, and by far was the Rangers’ best player in a very poor start to the season, but since then, has really cooled off. Richards’ totals for this season so far are 16 goals and 29 assists through 66 games. So, with Richards getting paid close to $7 million per season and still under contract for six more seasons with the Rangers, all signs are pointing to a definite buyout of Richards this upcoming offseason. Or are they?

On trade deadline day, the Rangers made history by being involved in the first ever captain for captain trade in NHL history. The Rangers sent Ryan Callahan to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Martin St. Louis, and if you do not remember, Richards and St. Louis were teammates and linemates 10 seasons ago when the Lightning won the Stanley Cup. And with St. Louis under contract with the Rangers for next season, the Rangers might want to keep Richards around, or risk upsetting St. Louis resulting in him wanting out.

So, with the possibility of buying out Richards leading to also losing St. Louis in a trade, who could the Rangers buyout this offseason to get more spending money towards the salary cap?  That answer, believe it or not, could be the Rangers’ leading goal scorer this season, Rick Nash.

Yes, I know Nash leads the Rangers in goals with 20, but at this point of the season, he should have more, given that the season is almost over and he was supposed to be a 40-50 goal scorer with the Rangers. Well, unfortunately, Nash has had concussion problems with the Rangers and really is one hit away from retirement. You can just tell at the way Nash has been playing since returning to the Rangers’ lineup; he looks afraid to go towards the middle of the ice and do some dirty work in order to get goals because he does not want to get hit in the head.

That, and with Nash making close to $8 million per season with the Rangers until 2018-19, he could actually be the player bought out at the end of this season instead of Richards.

Steven Carollo is a New York Rangers and sports writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter, add him on Facebook, connect with him on LinkedIn, and join his Google network.

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