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Rangers Cannot Be Caught Negotiating Against Themselves

June 28, 2011, by

Following up this morning’s post about realistic suitors for Brad Richards, this afternoon’s post focuses on the negotiation tactics of the Rangers when dealing with Richards. From reading the first post, there is maybe one additional suitor for Richards, and that is the Toronto Maple Leafs.  That competition with the Leafs got stiffer as Brooks Laich re-upped with Washington this morning.  If Richards wants another shot at a Cup, he will not go to Toronto*, plain and simple. So, realistically, it’s just the Rangers bidding on Richards. That, of course, gives the Rangers tremendous leverage. But there is a trap that the Rangers can’t fall into, and that is negotiating against themselves.

*-Not a shot at the Leafs or anything like that, just the organization has no real direction right now.

The first day of free agency in hockey generally has a good number of UFAs signing contracts. Unlike in baseball, the key free agents often find homes on day one. The rare exception was Ilya Kovalchuk last year, but there were extrenuating circumstances there. So, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Richards sign on the first day, which gives the Rangers roughly 12 hours of negotiating time with Richards. The thing is, it is unlikely that Richards will receive any realistic offers from competitors.

Thus, the Rangers are negotiating against themselves, which given the previous track record regarding high profile UFAs, is a cause for concern. The Rangers simply cannot get caught in the trap of raising their offer when either a) a counter offer has not been made, or b) an answer has not been given. This is a problem that the Yankees dealt with when locking up Derek Jeter. Of course, this is a different situation, but the same principle applies. They have to be able to read the situation and gauge the fact that there are very few, if any, other suitors for Richards.

Richards has set his “demands” high, at eight years and $50 million ($6.25 million cap hit). I doubt he gets that. But, such is life in the world of negotiating, that is just his opening number. I’d assume the Rangers would come in around five or six years at that cap hit ($31.25 million – $37.75 million) with their opening bid at noon on Friday. Again, this is just the opening round of negotiations.

I expect both sides to give a little, with Richards finally landing here on a six year, $40 million deal ($6.67 million per season). Richards will be signed until he’s 37, and at a manageable cap hit. It’s a win-win for both sides with that type of deal. But, the danger is the waiting game that Richards can play. Looking through the remaining teams and their roster size/cap space, there are very few teams that can even make a realistic pitch for Richards. Maybe Colorado as a “mystery” team, but does that really mesh with Richards desire to win?

The Rangers are the only team that can offer Richards the three things he is seeking: significant playing time as the top center, money, and a chance at winning during that contract. Other teams have one or two of these, but I simply cannot find a team that has all three. In the end, the Rangers and Brad Richards are a perfect fit for each other. Both sides know it.  But given some recent signings, we can’t help but fear that Glen Sather falls into the trap of negotiating against himself for Richards’ services.


  1. Walt says:

    I have major reservation with Richards, and wouldn’t sign him for more than four years, at the most. Lets face it the man has been concussed twice, which means another good hit could shelf him for the season, if not longer, remember Lindros folks! Why take that kind of chance, if four years isn’t good enough for Richards, let him walk and see how many teams would do better than the Rangers offer. Don’t get me wrong, the man is talented, but the fear is his medical history.

  2. Zen says:

    I find when there are “perfect fits” in hockey, things don’t always work out the way you would expect. Though I can say that I really do feel that BR will sign here and he has reportedly told people close it him the same thing, I find myself being cautiously optimistic. It is the Red Wings (i.e. playoff caliber teams) of the world that worry me. Look what happened with Hossa… he didn’t get what he wanted long term, so he decided to extend his UFAgency another year and go for a CUP run. That would suck.

  3. Brian SCS says:

    If the Rangers can bring him in for under $7mil and on a six year deal I would be very pleased with that.

  4. Matt J says:

    I personally don’t care as long as he doesn’t go to another in conference team. Richards will be worth it in the end. I think when we are ready to win a cup in 2014 he’ll be on the second or third line. But he will still be useful. I’m a realist, and Richards takes us one step closer to winning. July 1st will be very interesting and it is a chunk of the Rangers future.

    • Brian SCS says:

      Richards makes the Rangers a contender this year – he will help on the PP and 5v5 scoring. The Rangers have a top 3 goaltender and as a team were the 5th best defense last year. They have a coach who has won a cup. I’m not saying they are the favorites to win a cup but assuming they sign Richards, and are healthy come playoff time they will be legitimate contenders for Lord Stanley.

      • Matt J says:

        Well anything can happen of course. The Rangers aren’t even favorites to end up top 15 in the league. If we had Cally for this years Caps series, and we were all completely healthy i’m curious to see what the outcome would have been. But i’ll tell you this, this next year’s team will be a lot better than last years team with Richards or without him. I mean our defense is really becoming one of the top tier defenses in the league and hardly anyone takes notice.

    • Zen says:

      To say that BR would be on the 2nd/3rd line in 2 years means you don’t understand how good Richards is. Highly skilled players just don’t lose their ability overnight. Many would might argue with me using Drury as an example, but he is not an elite player. Unless some seriously good center comes along in 2 years (unlikely), BR would be in that top-line spot for awhile.

      • Matt J says:

        Maybe he won’t be on the second line. I’m aware how good he is. I think stepan will take over his role. I certainly hope BR’s skills dont diminish. He’s also 10x the player drury is and was.

  5. Mikeyyyy says:

    I hope Sather is willing to walk away if the asking price is too high. The fact he would have a contract after 35 scares me. The rules on contracts and cap hit are not kind. And we have no idea if he turns into another Gomez. Or a Chris Drury.

    There better not be a no trade clause.

    • Brian SCS says:

      That’s a good point about the NTC. Unfortunately I’d have to think he gets at least a partial no trade. I would have to think that Slats will stay away from the NMC’s from now on.

  6. Shurshik14 says:

    Agree with everything about Richards/NYR part. But saying that Colorado, Leafs, Coyotes aren’t suitors because they’re not contenders or they’re not moving in any direction is completely biased and something that those teams’ bloggers can easily say about the New York Rangers

  7. Mikeyyyy says:

    Players tend to wilt under our glaring bright lights.

    50/50 that br is a bust.

    A resurgent gabby makes it a win. But if those two don’t click. It will be a long season with golf in the spring.

    And signing br doesn’t make us a legit contender. Talk to me after 30 games about that.

  8. dbmaven says:

    There’s one team you’re forgetting about, that I believe is going to be the ‘mystery bidder/dark horse’ – and that’s Buffalo.
    New owner in Pegula (sp?) who’s shown and stated a willingness to spend, and took personal interest in getting Robyn Regher to agree to the trade.
    Don’t count out BUF just yet.