Last offseason, Brad Richards was not the victim of a compliance buyout. GM Glen Sather decided that it would be best to keep Richards around, giving him another shot with a new coaching staff. Richards performed well during the regular season, and even became the New York Rangers‘ de-facto captain after Ryan Callahan was traded. However, Richards game has been in tailspin since the Stanley Cup Final started, and a buyout is now inevitable for the former Conn Smythe winner.
Richards, who is 34 years old, has a cap hit of $6.6 million on a 10 year contract that he signed in the summer of 2011. Richards had a solid first year with the Rangers, but came into the 2013 season out of shape, and struggled to find his game. That season culminated with Richards being scratched for the Rangers final two playoff games. This was when the buyout talks began to start with Richards, but as I said before, Sather decided to keep him around.
Now there is no more excuse to keep Richards. He has shown he has very little left in the tank. He has aged quickly, and he has no more jump left in his legs. His decision making has been horrible, and he has looked lost on the point of the power play for the Rangers. Richards is a minus-4 in the Stanley Cup Final, and he has yet to record a point.
The Rangers don’t have the best centers, and that is a main reason why the Los Angeles Kings are up 3-0 in the final series. If Richards is bought-out, expect the Rangers to pursue unrestricted-free-agent, Paul Stastny. Stastny is a player who is faster than Richards, and would fit Alain Vigneault‘s puck-possesion system better.
Richards’ days as a member of the Rangers are all but over. He has nothing left in his legs, and can’t keep up with the speed of his own teammates anymore. He will be remembered as another big time singing that never panned out in New York.