After months of anticipation and rumors, the Rangers finally
signed Brad Richards to a nine-year, $60 million deal this morning.
Much conversation about the signing will focus on the terms
of the deal, but it’s also important to note that this isn’t Scott Gomez or
Chris Drury; this is one of the best players in the National Hockey League
that, when healthy, can change the direction of the franchise.
Still, the deal, especially the number of years, is
difficult to wrap one’s head around. The
$6.5 million cap hit is certainly manageable, but nine years is an extremely
long investment to make in a 31-year-old coming off a concussion. Richards may well earn his pay for the first
four years of the deal, but down the road it will be very difficult for
Richards to justify his contract.
The astounding part is that many reports indicate that the
Rangers actually didn’t make the highest offer to Richards. The center turned down more money to join New York, a rare occurrence
to be sure, but when the price is this high the discrepancy of a few million
dollars may not matter.
Whether you’re pleased with the terms of Richards’ contract
or not, there’s no denying that he fills a huge void at first-line center and
should provide major help in fixing a couple of New York’s biggest problems
from last season.
When healthy, Richards is among the best playmakers in the world and should immediately revive the Rangers’ power play and could be the remedy
to Marian Gaborik’s offensive woes. He’s
good for a minimum of 20 goals and 50 assists and capable of far-exceeding
Richards tallied seven goals and 22 assists on the power
play last year and 13 power play goals and 27 power play assists the year
before. He’s among the better pp QBs in
the league and helped Dallas
finish 14th in the league in power play percentage last season. The Rangers finished 18th, 1.1
percentage points behind the Stars, a deficit that Richards could easily erase.
Richards has long-been one of the premier playmakers in the
league and if anyone’s capable of turning Marian Gaborik’s disappointing
2010-2011 season into a distant memory, it’s him. Richards is the rare pivot that makes those
around him better and not only could he turn Gaborik back into a 35-goal
scorer, but he could be the key that transforms probable top-line left wing
Brandon Dubinsky into a star offensive player.
Richards gives the Rangers a nemesis that opponents must
gameplan for night after night. He’s capable
of tallying four points easily and providing enough offense on his own for the
Rangers to win games, especially with Henrik Lundqvist in net.
Among players expected to be on the 2011 Rangers’ roster,
only Mats Zuccarello and Brandon Dubinsky were better on faceoffs last year and
neither of them will see much time at center.
Other than the terms of his contract, the biggest concern
regarding Richards is the concussion he suffered in mid-February. Richards doesn’t have a concussion history,
but he did miss 26 games in 2008-2009 and eight games in 2007-2008. One concussion doesn’t necessarily mean that
Richards will suffer another, but it’s become a major trend in the NHL
throughout the years that those that have suffered one concussion often suffer
So there you have it, Richards is officially a
Blueshirt. The concussion is a caution
and the deal is monstrous, but there’s no question the Rangers are a better
team now than they were yesterday. We’ll
see how the Richards saga plays out, but at least this time they paid for truly
Plenty more to come.
Blog From July 1 >
Rangers Sign Mike Rupp >
Rangers Re-Sign Ruslan Fedotenko >
Rumored Rangers' Offer To Richards Through The Roof >
Left Wing Logjam: And Why It's Bad News For Wojtek Wolski >
Rangers Land Brad Richards >
Free Agency Preview:
Plan A: Sign Brad Richards >
Plan B: Trade For A Top Center >
Plan C: Stick With The Status Quo At Center >
Plan D: Add An Offensive Winger >
Plan E: Sign An Impact Veteran UFA Defenseman >
No, The Rangers Won't Be Giving Steven Stamkos An Offer Sheet >