New York Rangers center Brad Richards was bought out of the final six years of his contract, according to Pierre LeBrun of ESPN. Richards was an important piece to the Rangers’ first Stanley Cup Final since 1994, but he was bought out due to a lack of performance and being owed $6.67 million a year for the next six years. The Rangers will now pay Richards more than $20 million over the next 12 years, as reported by LeBrun.
This has been an expected move for the past two years. With 11 free agents and not much wiggle room, general manager Glen Sather bought out a player he originally signed into his 40s. The signing worked out at first for the Rangers, as Richards helped lead the team to two Eastern Conference Final appearances and one Stanley Cup Final. But due to a rapid decline in points and other players (Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider, Brian Boyle to name a few) needing to re-sign, Sather needed to get some cap room.
Richards will be a free agent as soon as July 1, but another deal where he gets paid nearly $7 million a year is unlikely. He will headline this year’s NHL free agent class with Colorado Avalanche center Paul Stastny.
Over the years, “Ritchie” has become a fan favorite. He helped elevate the team to contenders as soon as he got on the ice. But business is business, and the 34-year-old forward was not worth anything close to the money he was receiving. After the buyout, it appears that a second line forward will be on the top of the Rangers’ offseason needs this summer.