Despite playoff struggles, Brad Richards won’t be bought out until next summer

May 21, 2013, by

New York’s fourth line center would cost an extra $6 million to buy out this summer

It’s growing increasingly difficult to believe that this is just an off year for Brad Richards, that the 33-year-old will bounce back with the benefit of a summer to clear his head and a full John Tortorella training camp in the fall.  There are just too many signs that the former star center is on a steep decline.

And yet, despite Tortorella’s own silent admission through a fourth-line demotion that Richards has been awful, it’s still extremely unlikely the Rangers will exercise a buyout on Richards this summer.

As Dave Lozo explained so well last week, it would make very little sense for New York to exile Richards this summer rather than waiting until 2014.  The chief reason: buying out Richards this year would cost New York $24 million over the next 14 years, while waiting a season would cost the Blueshirts $18 million over the next 12 seasons.  Is it really a wise move for the franchise to swallow an additional $6 million just to banish Richards AND fork over the cash to pay his replacement?

If Glen Sather were armed with the cap space to obtain one of the summer’s big fish free agents – of which very few remain – then swapping Richards for a younger star would be a no-brainer.  But New York’s pending cap issues are well documented, so the Rangers likely wouldn’t be able to afford a replacement more expensive than a guy like Washington’s Matt Hendricks if they sent Richards packing.  Is someone like Hendricks so much of an upgrade over Richards that you’d be willing to pay his salary plus that extra $6 million for Richards’ buyout – probably $8 million to $9 million total – to make the swap?

Money isn’t usually much of a deterrent in stopping the Rangers from making personnel changes, but that’s a massive amount of cash to make a silly move.  As down on Richards as most Rangers fans are, even the biggest pessimists must agree that there’s at least a chance Richards plays better next season.  He can’t be much worse.

Rest easy knowing Richards is almost certainly a goner next summer.  The Rangers will need the cash, and after seeing what Richards’ downside looks like the Blueshirts know another seven years of Richards on Broadway isn’t an option.  The club will  use another “get out of jail free” card to erase a mistake, in due time.

Categories : Business of Hockey


  1. Walt says:


    Well it’s about time that you, and the blog staff, have come to the same conclusion we the readers came to back in Janurary, the man is washed up. The way you wrote the article, I see why we keep Richards for one more season, but what a waste of time, money, and roster spot.

    This may sound way out of line, but I wish the Rangers would trade for, develope, and or sign free agents that aren’t so called Super Stars. It appears that as a team, we always come up a day late, and a dollor short when we sign these free agents. The list grows by the year, Gomaz, Redden, Lindros, Dreury, and so on! Over the history of the Rangers we always seem to get retreads that are a bust, but yet the Devils get a Kovelchuk, the Flyers get a Pronger, and we get squat!!!!

    Just venting here, but I wasn’t big on the signing of Richards in the first place, and my gut feeling proved to be right. The Dodgers had a policy where players weren’t signed for long term deals, and it worked for years. When a person is hungry you bust your hump. When your signed to a beefy contract, you loose that hunger, and become a fat cat. I could be dead wrong, but I suspect that there plenty out there who would agree!!!!!

  2. Dave says:

    If he gets bought out this summer, I’ll be shocked.

  3. The Suit says:

    Buy him out this year. Use the cap space to lock up our young pieces. No sense keeping him. If he get’s injured next season we’d be royally screwed. Why chance it?

    It’s a hard decision, but the Rangers need to pull the trigger this season. Too much at risk.

    • Walt says:

      A silk tie for you my man, agree 100000% on this issue!

    • Dave says:

      Forgot about that injury aspect. Can’t buy him out if he’s injured. Good point.

    • scrangersfan says:

      I agree with you The Suit,creating cap space to sign the young players is more important then saving a fiew millions.Money was never an issue with the Rangers.Dolan have money to burn. Buy the guy out this summer and send him on his way.

  4. Evan M says:

    I wouldn’t say he’s been a waste of a roster spot. He was third on the team in points this past year, and who else would’ve taken his place? I also wouldn’t say non-factor. Is he the Brad Richards of old, or who we wanted? No, but I don’t think he’s been a waste.

    • Kevin says:

      Well 3rd because guys like Brassard, Zuccarello, etc. joined the team late. And Richards only had semi-respectable numbers because of those last few games.
      I was on the “off year” train until the playoffs, but he’s been a new kind of awful here. And I think more than a waste of a player, the hate for Richards is a product of his contract.

    • HARLEMBLUES says:

      Problem Evan is he was signed to be B.Rich of old.Cut the cord now.It’s only money which he is guaranteed a lot of any ways.I have know doubt JT Miller or Lindberg could handle that spot.6 million over two yrs is the difference lets do this ’13.It’s a win win.Like Branch Ricky said let them go a yr. early not a yr. late.Heaven help us if he gets injured.He got superstar money and he was never a superstar,but he is B.RICH.

      • Evan M says:

        I’m not saying to keep him at all. I understand the reasons for cutting him, and that people are disappointed because of his contract. Buy him out. I just don’t think he’s been a waste of a roster spot. Disappointing, yes, but not a waste.

  5. Hatrick Swayze says:


    The luxury of the compliance buyout is that there are no residual effects on the team’s cap hit. In other words, we can still spend to the cap and it frees up the $6,666,667 currently slated to Brad. The only thing lost is dollars, not cap space.

    We agree that the $6,666,667 he is slated to make next year will be paid to him whether he is on this team or not. Here are the two scenarios:

    If we let him go it will cost us $6,666,667 + whatever dollar amount his replacement costs us. Per Capgeek- Oscar Lindberg ($760,000) or JT Miller ($1,244,167). But the cap hit for that roster spot (say 4th line C) will only be Oscar’s $760,000 or JT’s $1,244,167.

    If we keep him it will cost us only the $6,666,667 of monetary loss. However it will also plug up a roster spot, that perhaps would be better served by a guy like Oscar or JT.

    Given that $ is of no issue to the organization (Dolan), I would take the monetary loss (buy him out now) and put together the best roster we can to compete. People like to talk about ‘our window’, many of which would agree is most wide while we have Hank @ Vezina caliber status. Also, you guys well know how many players are slated to be UFA’s and RFA’s after next year. Our team may have big personnel turnover after next yr. In other words, next year is an important year for us.

    Here is a very important element in this dynamic. If the team we put together without Brad makes us more competitive, we can cover his costs fully by advancing an additional playoff round. For example, this year if the Rangers make it past Boston and onto the ECF’s, the organization will make back his $6,666,677 without question. I read during the lockout that each regular season home game makes the owners an average of $1 million. The Rangers, being a big market team make more than that, and I would bet even more-so during the post season. In other words, the extra 4-7 games of an additional playoff round should recuperate Brad’s cap-hit and then some. IF they think that other personnel give the team a better shot at advancing to the latter rounds of the post season, the buyout becomes a no-brainer.

    Unless the organization truly believes he can rebound next year, he should undoubtedly be bought out. The roster spot should be given to the individual who will help the team out most next year, despite his cost. Sorry for the essay- love reading your stuff.

    • Kevin says:

      Hatrick, if you click on the links above, you’ll notice there are differences in the cap hits, albeit slight ones.

      I think we’re all forgetting about the depth issues this team faced at forward this year. Richards has been a very quality NHL forward, which can be difficult to find. Are we sure Lindberg and Miller will move into full-time spots seamlessly? What happened with Kreider this year?

      As for the playoff money gain, sounds like a bit of a leap to me to say that cutting Richards is the difference between the second round and the Conference Finals…

      • Pete says:

        Kevin, its pretty hard to imagine many forwards that were worse than Brad, and the fact also remains that a “quality NHL forward” is not taking up 6.66 mill of cap space. That is usually reserved for someone who is a bit more than that wouldn’t you say…?

        • Kevin says:

          Forget the money, he’s gone one way or another this year or next. Can’t measure the player on that right now when the buyout is a forgone conclusion.
          But if you think there’s any hope at all that Richards bounces back, then he’s more than a quality forward and the type of guy that could be a difference maker for the team next year as a #3.

          • Pete says:

            Its hard to forget the money with a salary cap, especially considering the situation the team is in. Also if it were a one year thing than maybe but we saw signs even last year of a decline so I were a betting man I surely wouldnt take a 6.6 mill bet that Brad returns to form when everything indicates the opposite.

            • Dave says:

              The team isn’t in a bad spot. The Gaborik trade freed up a lot of space.

              • voidoid says:

                This is exactly right – a lot of people don’t realize that $7.2m worth of Redden and Drury come off the books next year, plus Hamrlik and (unfortunately but likely) Sauer. We have plenty of room to sign the RFAs and fill out a very strong roster for next season with all the core pieces in place, and that includes Richards.

                Prior to 2013-14 it comes time to re-sign Cally and Henrik (and Girardi) – that’s when Richards’ cap hit becomes a problem.

                A lot of teams are f*cked next year with the cap reduction; the Rangers aren’t.

              • Dave says:

                They have $13m to sign their 4 key guys. Hardly an issue.

          • Walt says:

            What, like Druery was??

      • HARLEMBLUES says:

        Has been your words.The coach has to get over his trust issues.JT Miller/Lindberg will be find over 82 games.When the play offs come around they will have gone thru a full NHL season.Krieder’s issue was the coaches trust in a 48 game push for a play off spot.Hell look at Ottawa,Montreal,Toronto and Boston rookies rookies played with no fear.

        • Kevin says:

          Replied to quickly there, Harlem, part of my comment above applies.
          And yes, there are plenty of rookies that do thrive right away. Plenty don’t. Are you willing to take that risk? Not aiming this at you personally, but have many of us even seen Lindberg play? Lots of unknowns there. If they are both better than Richards, play them over him and send Richards to the press box. I just think it makes more sense to keep a guy that has been a star, if you think he might still have anything left, then to just hand jobs to unproven rookies. There’s risk in both scenarios.

          • HARLEMBLUES says:

            Unknown yes,unproven yes,untested yes,younger yes,skilled yes,strong fast above average skater yes,willing to move forward sight unseen.I know what i have in B.RICH a ageing player not pretty.JT Miller is the real deal have seen him.There’s risk Kevin let’s move forward.

            • Dave says:

              JT Miller is the real deal based on 20 games? Did we not learn from Kreider that kids need time?

      • Hatrick Swayze says:

        Agree on both points. I’m not advocating that he be bought out, I think I would just disagree on the thought process behind it. I tried to lay out the criteria which I would look at to make the decision. I’m no advanced scout at the NHL level- so I wouldn’t say he is done. I would peg him to play above this level next year, but I doubt he will play as he did last yr. Fans, in general, are way to quick to decide someone is washed up.
        Lastly, I’m not saying that he is the difference between advancing another round in the playoffs, but if someone could give us a better shot, then he should be in blue next year. Given that were not a small market team, and can swallow monetary blunders, we should take advantage of that and use our resources to establish the best, most competitive on ice product.

        1 more question though- do the compliance buyouts have to be used in the off-season? I’m assuming they do…

  6. Pete says:

    Not many of us were expecting Gaborik to get dealt at the deadline either. Just shows that the FO is not afraid to make the necessary moves and buying out Richards is necessary. It frees up cap space and allows the team to sign guy who you know, produce.

    It’s really a shame that Brad couldnt come close to expectations because at face value he was precisely what the team needed but with the emergence of Brassard and Step really stepping up the team has its 1/2 centers so that a lot of cashish/cap space for a 3rd line C.

    So yeah, thanks for the memories Brad and have fun spending Dolans cash. If you need advice on how I’m sure Wade can help you out…

    • Dave says:

      The front office may not view buying out Richards as a necessity right now. They may be of the belief this is an off year.

      • Pete says:

        He very well might bounce back but what do you see that would indicate such a thing?

        • The Suit says:

          I’d buy out Richards even if he was having a decent year. This is your one get out of jail free card. Use it. If he gets injured next year we are stuck with that cap hit until 2020. Good luck with that.

          • Dave says:

            The injury thing is the only reason why I’d do it this year.

            That said, the center depth becomes Stepan, Brassard, Boyle, Powe? Would like to see them get a 2C.

        • Dave says:

          Nothing makes me think this is more than just a down year, but nothing makes me think he can rebound and be an effective 2nd line center either.

  7. Dave says:

    Just throwing this out there:

    Richards: .116 Corsi Rel QoC, 9.6 RCorsi, 63.4% OZone start

    Miller: .026 Corsi Rel QoC, -8.5 RCorsi, 61.1% OZone start

    Kreider: .048 Corsi Rel QoC, -25.7(!!) RCorsi, 62.5% Ozone start

  8. Rangers Fan in Boston says:

    Doesn’t this argument come down to whether the team feels compelled to take the risk that Richards won’t get hurt next season?
    Whether the team feels he can bounce back next season or not, a major injury would be catastrophic.

  9. Brenda says:

    I love how so many people think Richards is a waste, but seem to have COMPLETE faith in all of these unproven prospects and rookies, who could end up being much worse than Richards.

    NYR Richards has certainly not been TBL Richards – no arguments there. But I think people are very quick to discount the leadership he brings to the room and how much effort he put into team cohesion with the new guys during the lockout.

    He’s also won a Cup, which makes him one of… oh, yeah, the ONLY current Ranger who’s got one.

    Does this make up for his severe drop in production? Not totally – of course not. But it’s not insignificant, and it’s something that those unproven kids cannot provide.

    Also, I’m unwilling to read too much into anyone’s game — either positive or negative — in this bizarre and shortened season.

    Maybe he should get a buyout after next season, but I personally don’t think the Rangers should buy him out this summer.

    • Dave says:

      This is in line with my thinking. Too many weird variables to this season, plus this is such a down year that it’s tough to believe someone regresses that much that quickly.

  10. TxRanger says:

    They have to give him a shot to bounce back. They invested too much money in him to buy him out after this season.

    Say we buy him out this summer, and then some random team gives him a shot, he has a great season. What will all of y’all be saying then?

    • Dave says:

      I’ll be saying I told you so, since I think they should wait a year.

      As for everyone else, well, it’ll be funny.

      • TxRanger says:

        Agreed. There is no way we can just give up on him for one bad season. It’s just not how business should be conducted.

        • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

          Well the argument otherwise is if he gets hurt and you can’t buy him out and that contract prevents the team from improving itself for the next 6 years.

          This may very well end up being a fluke year, but when the end result is the same either way (buyout this offseason or next), and you are given the opportunity for a do-over (thanks CBA), don’t screw it up.

          That is all.

        • Pete says:

          I wouldn’t call this season “bad” per se. A player that you’re paying a ton of money to, that takes up north of 6 mill against the cap and is playing on the forth line is not having a “bad” season, he is having an downright awful season. One can call last year a bad season, but this one? Terrible, pure and simple.

  11. Michael says:

    I’m not only looking at this year but the next. Sure we can resign the RFA this year with Richards, but why risk having him get hurt and being stuck with him?

    What can we get from the bargain bin of players being bought out from other teams at a huge discount to support the young players?

    The bigger issue is that players will take a discount to 1) stay with their 1st team if they are competitive and 2) to move to a competitor. We cannot afford to lose Hank, Callahan, or Girardi the following year bc we have an off year in 13-14 and can only promise them a turnaround. Hank and Girardi are prime targets to turn a good team into a contender. Freeing up the cash now also means we can spend more up front this summer and tie up some of our current players to longer cap friendly deals: (Stepan, Hagelin, McD, and maybe Zucc)

  12. Jess says:

    Forget the money part as this is the Cablevision/Dolans owned Rangers and if they can pay out for the Knicks then 6.7 million to buyout Richards is chump change.

    But what I still see people missing is that the Richards they thought the Rangers were getting is the older version of a player who won the Cup back in 04.

    The saying goes:

    Young players get better
    Older players just get older.

    That was said by Glen Sather in 2000.

    The system that Richards thrived on in Tampa Bay is not the system being used by Tortorella today. Even with the changes in mid-season, Richards is lost in the current system just as Gaborik was.

    Sorry buy him out so the Rangers can sign the next free agent that the fans want. See that is the one change that needs to happen more than any other. Stop already looking for free agents to solve your problems; it will be 20 years next year and if you haven’t learned the lesson by now then you never will.

    Build your own stars not buy them

  13. bernmeister says:

    The numbers don’t lie. But, as to:
    “Is it really a wise move for the franchise to swallow an additional $6 million just to banish Richards AND fork over the cash to pay his replacement?”

    The answer is it would depend upon the replacement.

    That $$ long term is best spent on reduced cap dollars for guys like McDonagh +, unless Malkin would consider to come here next year, in which case other moves are needed for $$. However, short term, IF Chicago is unable/unwilling to sign LW Bryan Bickell and RW Viktor Stallberg (a lefty shot, maybe ok on the other W), then signing both these guys ONE YEAR ONLY could be a smart stop gap. (Why do they do it? Another solid full season verifying this year not a fluke would = even bigger payday contract.) That would be best move with Richards salary, assuming all of that falls into place.