The New York Rangers are no longer in the running to take home the Stanley Cup this year and there are plenty of questions about what next season will look like. While talk of letting go head coach John Tortorella won’t be taken too seriously — mainly because of the fact management would need to hire body guards to do so– Brad Richards’ job is less safe. But the Rangers center wants to remain in New York and plans on honoring his end of the massive contract he signed.
“I signed here to be a Ranger a lot longer than a year and a half,” he said, via ESPN New York. “I still hope to do that, but I gotta take care of how I can play and that’s all on me.”
The second highest paid player in the NHL, Richards was benched in the postseason and played nowhere near the level we saw him reach when he won the Conn Smythe Trophy. But had Richards not signed the gigantic contract he signed with the Rangers, a lot of his problems wouldn’t be as amplified as they currently are.
Richards still has seven years left on his $60 million contract from two years ago and it’s making him a prime candidate for a compliance buyout this offseason. While the talk has become louder since Richards’ struggles in the postseason, the center says he’s been hearing rumblings from fans and writers all season long.
“That’s been written since probably a week into the season,” Richards said of the buyout talk. “That’s the business side of it. I’m playing hockey no matter what.”
But the talk of Richards’ being bought out by the Rangers stems more from his age than it does his play. At age 33, if Richards fulfilled the entire length of his contract he’d be 40 when it expires. If Richards retires early before his contract is done, the Rangers would be charged with a penalty of $5.66 million if Richards calls it quits in 2017, $8.5 million in 2018, and $17 million in 2019.
If the Rangers also don’t want Richards to suffer an injury that they’d then have to pay for as he’d be sitting on the bench — even though he was doing exactly that in the postseason albeit as a healthy scratch.
So the situation with Richards is one to watch closely as even if he wants to come back to the Rangers, New York might find it wiser to let him go and save the money they’d be otherwise putting on the line.