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Richards, Clowe set for bounce-back seasons

Both poised for bounce-back years. Will they do it? (Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images)

Both poised for bounce-back years. Will they do it? (Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images)

It’s no secret: Brad Richards and Ryane Clowe had disastrous seasons. Richards was a non-factor for the Rangers on the powerplay –something he was brought in to help bring back to respectability– and was even a healthy scratch for the last few games of the postseason. Clowe didn’t score a goal until he arrived in New York before suffering what is rumored to be two concussions over the span of the last week of the season and his two playoff games.

What we do know is that they were both awful. What we don’t know is whether or not these were off-years or the sign of a complete downward spiral for both players. However, handy-dandy puck possession metrics and shooting percentages can give us a bit of insight into what to expect from them next year, be it in New York or elsewhere.¬†Yesterday I looked at the puck possession leaders for the Rangers, and both Richards and Clowe were among the top five for the Rangers, which may allude to the fact that there’s still gas in the tank.¬† Insert “watch the game nerd” joke here.

As for Richards, his shooting percentage last season (10%) was actually above his career average (9%), and his shot per game (2.39, 110 shots) weren’t that far off from last season (2.79, 229 shots). Where Richards stands to benefit the most is with the coaching change, which is ironic because he came here to play under John Tortorella once more. When with Dallas –in a 1-2-2 forecheck and a more offensive minded system– Richards never dipped below 270 SOG.

The problem with Richards is that he appeared to lose a step. He isn’t exactly young, but the move to a less aggressive system should help with Richards. He’s not being counted on to play defense, he’s being counted on to provide offense, and AV will deploy him as such (the Sedins got 70% OZone starts until this season). Keep in mind, Richards didn’t exactly sit around and not produce. He still put up a line of 11-23-34, which is a 19-41-60 pace over 82 games. Not great, but not exactly Darroll Powe.

As for Clowe, we all know he was incredibly snake bitten before coming to New York. Clowe shot an abysmal 3.4%, well below his career average of 11.2%. He started to show signs of life with the Rangers, shooting at 13.6% over 12 games before going down with his concussions. Pair that with his solid RCorsi, and you have a player that just got unlucky. A simple regression back to the mean will lead to a solid season for Clowe.

Richards is the more likely of the two to remain in Ranger blue for next season, especially with AV on board. Top-six centers are tough to find at a reasonable price –it is very scary that $6.6 million for next season for a top-six center is actually considered reasonable for guys who aren’t under team control, but such is the life of a “star” player– and if it weren’t for the eleventy billion years left on Richards’ contract (7 years), then not many would have an issue with that contract. Clowe on the other hand likely won’t be back, and is the bigger risk because of all of his concussions last season (3). However Clowe is more likely to rebound in a big way than Richards.

The Rangers might be best holding on to Richards for another year (I’m in the minority here) and taking a chance that he rebounds. There is a risk of injury (and the potential to not be able to buy him out next year due to said injury), but sometimes you have to take a big risk when your Cup window is open. After all, how many 60-point centers are on the market this season? As for Clowe, it’s almost guaranteed that he at least has some sort of bounce-back year. He won’t shoot 3.4% next season. If he doesn’t price himself out of New York, he could be a welcomed bargain. The Rangers need depth, and these two guys give it to them –if they bounce back.

29 Responses to “Richards, Clowe set for bounce-back seasons”

  1. Tommy says:

    Its a real big if.. but i say give richards one more season and pray to all things holy he doesnt get hurt. Clowe, will not be on the roster, if richards is

    • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

      Why do we have to pray to all things holy when the Rangers can cut out the risk and buy him out now? Richards isn’t the missing piece to a Stanley Cup championship. He’s a huge financial liability. I didn’t think this decision was that hard, but we’ll see how the Rangers play it. It’s crazy to me that this is even a discussion.

      • Randy says:

        Agreed…everyone who wants to keep BR this season seems to want to buy him out next season anyway. No one wants him for the rest of his contract, so why keep him around for 1 more year and risk an injury? Buy him out and use the money for someone who will actually help this team for the next few years and not have us praying for no injuries.

      • Centerman21 says:

        It is a tough decision to make. If it were an easy one the NYR would be right there with Philly and Montreal who have already announced they will use one or both of their compliance buyouts on a player(s).
        I’m a huge fan of Stepan(Hence the name Centerman21) but are we deep enough at Center with Step, Brass, Boyle, and Powe? Boyle might be moved if they plan on keeping Richie. 4th liners don’t get what he does but the two young kids would be a bigger gamble than keeping Richards IMO!> This team is on a Cup or bust quest this season and cannot afford to find out they lack a top Pivot in November. I mean can you really say you’re confident in Step and Brassard leading the way from the middle of the lineup? The real gamble is not if Richards gets hurt. It would be if Stepan and Brassard have Monster seasons of 75 and 60 points. with Richards relegated to the 3rd line. They cannot use the buyout during the season and would leave him as a scratch if that happened. It’s a hard decision to make. It’s not an open and shut case. It sucks.

    • Centerman21 says:

      I’d rather Clowe stay than Richards but would like to see both stay. Glen Sather gave up so much to bring him here. I believe the Rangers surrender a 2nd round pick not a 5th if they reach the ECF next year whether he is resigned or not. I see them making the finals and 3 picks is a lot for a player you allowed to leave in Free Agency. That would be the worst thing since NYR have no 2nd round pick in this deep draft because he played 13 games. Have to resign him. I would think he could get more money if he played 1 good year injury free on a 1 year 1-2 million deal. That’s not chump change and it could keep Clowe in NY. His presence alone backs guys off. Oleksy wasn’t so tough after running into Clowe behind the net in Wash series. That’s what he does. His reputation precedes him.

  2. Zen says:

    The end of the post title should say “… for other teams.”

    Dave, I normally don’t mind your thoughts, but I think you have lost your mind with this Richards stuff. There is zero reason to keep Richards at age 33 and risk having to lose players down the line (if he can’t be bought out). And then there monster cap penalty if he retires early… which he almost definitely will. NOT worth the risk.

    • Dave says:

      We aren’t always going to agree. That’s fine.

    • Centerman21 says:

      The cap is only a set number for one season. That is probably why most teams will use their buyouts now or not at all. At least that’s my theory! After next season the cap is calculated on the amount of shared (HRR) revenue like most years. The league is reporting almost no losses from the lockout. They did so well this year and with more outdoor games next season, it’s likely that gains top 5% per year in the next 2 years.

      What I’m getting at is if the Cap goes to 75 million or more after next season, Richards cap hit won’t be that big a burden on the team financially. They will have money to spend. If he were to get hurt I mean and Sather wasn’t able to use it if he intended to. I know it’s a risk but like Dave said here, sometimes you have to take a risk. Sathers Free Agent signings the last 10 or more years should show he’s not affraid of risk involved.

      Finally, if you think that a team is gonna pay any Cap recapture penalties, then you may have to be crazy. I mean that in an objective way. I would think teams would make a player disappear before allowing him to retire with years left on his contract. I would think team will go the route the Islanders went with Tim Thomas. If the player simply does not show to camp instead of filing retirement. He wont get paid the same as if he retired and his team would be able to remove his contract off their books. No cap penalties can exceed 7.5% of said teams cap spending also

  3. WilliamW says:

    I’d give Richards another year for two reasons aside from a bounce back being likely:
    1) Lack of real upgrades available
    2) To serve a a bridge year for Lindberg / Miller to take the 3C spot

    If they do buy him out. I’d rather they not sign any of the Bickell, Clarkson Horton types. In today’s cap era only bonafide stars should be paid $5+ million per year

    • Centerman21 says:

      very true bud. Horton would fit nicely with the 2 way forwards on the Rangers now. tho he may get a Richards type deal somewhere.

  4. Spozo says:

    I’ve said it before. If they cut Richards lose they get awfully thin at center. This team does not win a Stanley cup with Stepan, Brassard, Boyle as the top three centerman. Stepan is a legit #1. Brassard had a good run with the Rangers but I’m not completely sold on him as a #2 on a Stanley cup contender. He really just had a good month and a half with this team and I would need to see that consistently. Boyle is a really good 4th line center (but at that price?!$$).

    I’m not saying they should not buy out Richards but this is something I hope Sather has a backup plan for.

    • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

      I agree, the Rangers are definitely thin at center. I also have to see Brassard do it for a full season before I’m completely on board.

      However, where I deviate from Dave is that I don’t believe a possible Richards bounce back is worth the risk of a 33 year old not getting hurt. I also am not sold on Richards being markedly better than other possible options that could be brought in that are younger (Bozak age 27 – 55 point pace, Derek Roy age 30 – 55 point pace) or less risky (Briere).

      • Spozo says:

        But if you get any of the guys you mentioned it will be a 5 year contract that will require outbidding other teams. Richards is essentially on a single year contract if they keep him.

        • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

          I’d be very surprised to see Derek Roy get a 5 year deal. Briere certainly will not. Bozak is the wildcard in that list of players. I have no idea what to expect for the market for Bozak.

          Briere on a one year deal is much more palatable.

          Richards’ contract is a one year deal with a vesting option for 6 years with an injury. No thanks.

  5. howiehockey says:

    Those out there, including management, the pres and fans, who think both Richards and Clowe will have bounce back seasons are either smoking or drinking some heavy-duty stuff.
    Both players have injury and concussion history in
    their medical dossier.

    • Walt says:

      Agree 100%

      Once a person has a concussion, the odds are they will continue to have them. Clowe had 3 this season, so what are we to expect next year 6?? Forgetaboutit!!!!!

      Richards, I won’t waste any more words on the relic.

      We currently have very good centers in Step, and Brass, and I’ve mentioned before, the MVP of the SEL Lindberg, who is soild 2-way player at center. Miller would be another option, and Boyle could center the 4th line. Get rid of Powe, see what he can bring us back.

      This is a no brainer!!

  6. Mikeyyy says:

    Insurance. That’s what he is.

    If stepan doesn’t progress. Then we still have Richards.

    And remember slats is a master at the trade deadline. I am sure he can find a taker for a reasonable return.

    We have a lot of young center men coming up through the pipe. I view the Richards scenario as a stopgap.

    • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

      Find a taker for a reasonable return for Richards? No one is trading for that contract.

      That’s one expensive insurance policy. (Can the Rangers get an insurance policy for the insurance policy in case of injury?)

    • Centerman21 says:

      Yeah there’s no one taking BR from the Rangers. Not with his contract and the season he had last year. Maybe if he had a 80 point season next year but I doubt that happens and it may be tough to trade that contract anyway. You would have to take back another bad contract from another team of equal value. Not likely!

  7. Rob says:

    The last FULL season BR played for the Rangers, he had the most GW goals on the club with 9 or 10 goals right? Also, in the same scenario in a year from now, he can be bought out again. Especially with a weak FA off season and the fact that Brass isn’t fully a legit 2nd line center man….yet. I’d give the man another shot, especially with AV here. Just me two cents.

  8. Bill says:

    They both have to go! Richards for obvious reason and Clowe for the simple fact that after 3 concussions he will not make it thru the playoff grind!

  9. Evan says:

    Torts on Sedins today: “They’re going to kill penalties. And if they’re going to kill penalties, they’re going to block shots.”

    Hilarious.

    This is the reason why I am glad he is gone. Sedins havent killed penalties regularly since 2005-2006. Furthermore, Henrik Sedin has a grand total of 125 career blocked shots in his career, while callahan has 134 the past 2 seasons. This is what the people who wanted torts gone have been harping on, his inability to adjust to the type of personnel he has. Instead he refuses to adapt. Good riddens.

    Lets go AV!

    • Zev says:

      Yeah! Screw Torts! Ohhh, wait, this thread is about Brad Richards and Ryan Clowe? Really? (Looks around… puts head down… slowly slinks out of the room.)

  10. Mikeyyy says:

    We keep forgetting that he came into the season without an offseason workout. He was helping with the cba.

    So he didn’t really prepare correctly. He also found out that he does need to prepare. My sources say he is a very very proud player. This means I expect him to be ready on day 1 of next season.

    If he came back in pre lockout 2 form would that appease the garden boo birds?

    We will need him for the first half if next season with cally and hags out.

    He can also be waived and we would incur half his salary.

    It keeps coming back to his pride. He will be ready.

  11. Sally says:

    There was a funny comment on a blog about Ryan Kesler already being fragile. They couldn’t imagine what would happen if he had to block shots.