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What we learned in year one of the Brad Richards era

One year into a massive nine-year contract is a pretty small sample size to determine if the signing of Brad Richards was a win or loss for the New York Rangers.

Though Richards’ production (25 goals, 41 assists) was a bit disappointing from a numbers standpoint, he still had a massive impact on the Blueshirts this season.  It’s too early to make any concrete judgments on his tenure in New York, but we’ve already learned a good amount about Richards’ impact on the franchise.

  • Richards fits like a glove in this city and on this team.  There were countless reports this season of Richards tutoring Michael Del Zotto and Richards was consistently credited for being a terrific teammate and positive locker room influence.  The Rangers are an extremely young team with very little postseason experience and Richards’ value as a guiding hand and an example for the baby Blueshirts can’t be overstated.
  • He’s about as clutch as it gets.  Chris Drury came to New York with a reputation for being one of the marquee crunch-time performers in sports, but for he never became that go-to guy for the Rangers.  Richards arrived with a similar history of postseason and late-game excellence and he immediately demonstrated that his clutch trait would continue even under the bright lights of Broadway.  Richards netted nine game-winning goals to lead the club, some of them in dramatic fashion like the harmless spin-o-rama backhander against Phoenix with less than a second left in regulation on December 17th.  Richards followed his clutch regular season up with an equally impressive postseason that saw him net 15 points (six goals, nine assists) to lead the team.  There are zero questions about his ability to handle the pressure of New York and Richards has quickly established himself as the team’s savior in late-game situations.
  • One of the primary reasons Richards was brought to New York was to quarterback the club’s woeful power play.  Though Richards posted 24 points on the man advantage (seven goals, 17 assists) he was unable to transform the team’s power play by himself.  The Blueshirts finished ranked 23rd on the man advantage and struggled for huge chunks of the season to even generate scoring chances.  Richards didn’t perform badly on the power play by any means, but it’s clear that he needs help in turning New York’s special teams around.
  • That enormous nine-year, $60 million contract that was so alarming last summer suddenly doesn’t look so bad, especially following the 13-year, $98 million deals signed by Zach Parise and Ryan Suter this summer.  Sure, Richards is older than either player and at age 32, he may not be able to live up to his billing deep into his term in New York.  But the $6.67 million cap hit is reasonable and if the last couple of seasons on his deal indeed turn out to be throwaways, only included originally to lower his cap number, then the Richards contract may eventually be viewed as relatively fair.  It’s tough to judge how any long-term contracts signed over the last couple of seasons will be viewed down the road because we don’t know what will happen with the CBA, but the current trend of more years and more dollars makes the Richards deal much easier to stomach than it was 12 months ago.  If the owners get their way and contracts are limited to a maximum length of six years under the new CBA and the salary cap is lowered substantially, then we might think about this a little differently.

In year two, Richards’ honeymoon period will be long over and he’ll be expected to produce at nearly a point-per-game pace.  The Rangers will need him to carry the offense, especially in Marian Gaborik’s absence.  How successful he is at doing that will likely determine how we view him next summer, but for now, Richards is looking like a pretty solid signing.

 

20 Responses to “What we learned in year one of the Brad Richards era”

  1. ranger17 says:

    we will see

  2. Walt says:

    Richards didn’t disappoint, he did his job plus some!

    Coming in with his contract, he carried the world on his shoulders, and helped this team big time. If we can get the same numbers from Brad this year, as last, I’d be happy. Let’s not forget that there was an adjustment period, getting to know his wings, and it wasn’t until Hags skated with his line that they clicked. All that was mentioned, plus the fact we had a load of injuries!

    If Dubi picks his scoreing, and the Kreider kid kicks in his fair share, with Gabby’s return to health, BR could, and should have a decent season for himself, and the team.

    PS
    Just think of the pressure BR would have been under has he signed a contract like Parise’s!

  3. Dave says:

    It’s amazing how a “bad” contract from last summer looks like a steal this summer.

  4. Jeff P says:

    It’s no secret that Richards struggled after a strong start, and disappeared for long stretches during the year. But he turned it on towards the end of the year (24 points in 20 games) and was the best Ranger in the playoffs.

  5. Rickyrants13 says:

    He will do even better if the team grows around him.

  6. wwpd says:

    It is obvious richards is succeeding in new york because he didn’t used to own a horse ranch

  7. kdiff77 says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIW4Bsp9ZqQ

    He’s worth every penny, and then some.

  8. Leatherneckinlv says:

    Initially I was against signing him, however he played well for the Rangers ans added other intangibles that I had not seen coming from him such as being a Mentor to the kids. He brought quality to the plate and now I am glad he was signed. With the hopeful addition of Getzlaf next year this team will contend for a very long time. I have a feeling we will see the infusion of a couple of rookies into the line up excluding Kreider through out the next year and again Richards will do what he did last year.
    He should have Gabby back as his line mate upon Gabby’s return for an elite 1st line. That bodes well for the Rangers

    • The Suit says:

      You weren’t the only one Leather. Mikeyyy, Section 121, scrangersfan, and many more were all against signing him. When in doubt, read Blue Seat Blogs. We never steer you guys wrong!

    • Section 121 says:

      I still think Stepan will eclipse Richards sooner than later and it’ll be Derek leading the charge rather than Brad if and when we win the cup. Unless we push for it next year, Richards will begin to decline.

      It was never the player for me, just his age and the timing of the contract. Long term, his contract will hurt us and I don’t mean when he’s 40. I mean when he’s 35 in three years. Expecting him to line up and dominate against the other top talent in the league at age is foolish. He already skates like he has a load in his pants, I can’t imagine how he’ll look in a few more years.

      I wonder why the young speedy legs of Hagelin saved his line at the end of the season… hmmmm.

  9. freewheeler says:

    I guess I’m still in the minority that doesn’t like him, though I was for bringing him in originally. If you watch him shift to shift, he’s a disaster. I did not realize how poor of a decision maker he was. He has no strength to speak of, no speed, weak shot (and always high), average to below-average faceoffs skills, etc. Occasionally he pulls off a miraculously creative play, but it’s not enough. I dread watching him rush the puck on the powerplay from behind the net. How many times does he need to get caught, make a suicide pass and have it cleared out before someone puts him in another role? Then, when he gets the puck on the powerplay, he just starts ripping it at the net, regardless of where he is on the ice, despite having probably the worst shot of the unit.

    I think if he was used in a different role then he might have more value, and I could tolerate him. He’s touted as a puck possession player, but I don’t see it. Gaborik is better in every conceivable way than Richards, yet Richards is given the duties of QB-ing the PP and generally running the offense.

  10. JimBob says:

    Look at it this way…..he had more points than Nash. Nash has broken 70 pts only ONCE in his career. And I hear all these fans saying trade Step, Dubi, AA, and picks for a 60 point producer. Last year these three players (Dubs, Step, and AA) had 43 goals and 78 assists for 121 points….double Nash. Does anyone yet see the wisdom in NOT trading for Nash ??????

  11. rob sahm says:

    good signing he done his part but we still need scoring

  12. keco says:

    No one mentioned his awful, sometimes just plain lazy, play on the defensive side of the puck? The kind of play that led to 2 gamewinners against in the Devils’ series! Not saying I expect him to be a Selke nominee, but I couldn’t believe how bad he was.

    • freewheeler says:

      Very lazy. We have a few perps. I’m sorry to say I think Dubi might be the biggest. His play away from the puck has fallen off a cliff. It seems his instincts in this area have regressed. When he gets the puck, he turns into a madman, but he watches too much the rest of the time. Richards isn’t going anywhere, so we’ll just have to live with that and hope he improves. Dubi on the other hand…

      I wish we could combine Anisimov’s defensive play and hands with Dubi’s puck protection.

  13. tony h says:

    Though i was not sure i wanted richards last year due to his age and big contract, and in the beginning of the season i really thought it was the wrong decision signing him, by the end of the year he won me over. It was the first year and it is always the most difficult for a player coming in with such great expectations. But he gave me enough to see that he brings a lot to thos team. Being clutch, mentoring kids and running the power play are more important than the numbers would show. The power play in my opinion is not only richards problem. I think it is the coach. He is shooting more on the power play only because there is no one else on the team that would try. Remember “shoot the puck” chants for years? It still is a problem the team needs to address by signing a defender with a big shot. I think that is what this team lacks a lot more than a scorer and i hope they will address. I think our expectations of Kreider for this year are way over what they should be and i expext him to “fall on earth” for this full season because the playoff was pure adrenaline for him. I expect great things in the future though and i think richards is key to mentoring this and the other kids. I am looking forward to the next 3-4 years from richards and if he delivers during those years and brings us the cup back to new york, the contract is worth it, no matter what happens after.