Report: Rangers expected to use compliance buyout on Brad Richards

Jun 15, 2:12 PM

The NHL's compliance buyout window opens on Monday, and the team that was on the losing end of the Stanley Cup Final may be at the front of the line in regards to filing the paperwork.

Both Larry Brooks of the New York Post and Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe report the New York Rangers will use their remaining buyout on forward Brad Richards, with the former going as far as to say it is a "only a matter of timing as to when management exercises its final amnesty buyout on the team’s de-facto captain."

The 34-year-old is under contract for six more seasons with a cap hit of $6,666,667 annually. For the second straight postseason, he found himself relegated to the Rangers' fourth line, contributing five goals and seven assists during the 25-game run but only one assist against the Los Angeles Kings.

Richards did register 51 regular season points (20 goals, 31 assists), but his contract and diminishing skills don't justify that kind of cap hit, making it likely that he'll be plying his trade for a different team in 2014-15.

Click here for more on Richards' situation, and 4 other like compliance buyout targets.

Feature photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports/Gary A. Vasquez

Jun 21, 6:00 PM

Richards on buyout: 'I can now look forward to starting the next chapter of my career'

Jun 21, 6:00 PM

The New York Rangers used their final compliance buyout on center Brad Richards Friday afternoon. Richards was widely speculated to be bought out by the Rangers and will become a free agent this summer.

When asked about the decision, Richards told The New York Post, "Glen Sather, the management, and the owner, Mr. [James] Dolan, are all class acts. I want to thank them for letting me be a part of New York life and the Rangers family."

He continued, "With this decision finalized, I can now look forward to starting the next chapter of my career."

Richards won't likely be left on the market too long as a veteran forward is often what teams look for to pad their roster.

General manager Glen Sather expressed his gratitude towards the veteran, "Brad has been a very good player for us and an even better person. We wish him all the best in his future endeavors."

Feature photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports/Charles LeClaire

Jun 20, 6:41 PM

Rangers GM Glen Sather on Richards buyout: 'This was an extremely difficult decision'

Jun 20, 6:41 PM

On Friday the New York Rangers bought out 34-year-old centerman Brad Richards, who didn't have to be placed on $125 unconditional waivers first because of the no-movement clause attached to his now terminated nine-year, $60 million deal. 

For Rangers general manager Glen Sather, it was a sad day. "We would like to thank Brad for everything he has done for our team on and off the ice during his time here," said the long-tenured, cigar chomping executive by way of the Rangers' twitter feed. "This was an extremely difficult decision to make because of how much respect I have for him (Brad Richards).

"Brad's leadership and guidance for our young players was invaluable to the organization. We are grateful to have had the professionalism and experience he brought as an example for our team to follow."

Richards himself added his own 'parting is such sweet sorrow' take on the transaction, calling the last few days "tough" before adding: 

I loved being a Ranger and living in New York and playing at MSG in front of great fans.

I've met many new friends, excellent teammates and staff and I have memories that I will cherish for a lifetime. [Courtesy @NYRangers]

Because of his diminished effectiveness the past two seasons, and the massive cap recapture liability represented by his now terminated contract, Richards was always very likely to get bought out by the Rangers during the buyout period. Still, as Sather's comment would suggest, his tenure as a Ranger should probably be regarded as an unmitigated success. 

During Richards' three seasons on Pennsylvania Plaza he amassed 151 points in just over 200 games, so he provided the Rangers with credible top-line forward offensive production. The team made the playoffs in all three years that Richards spent with the club, won six playoff rounds during that span, and hosted 28 home playoff games. 

So Richards was a productive if overpaid player who helped generate a tonne of revenue for ownership. He also pocketed over $31 million in salary, with more than $20 million to be paid out over the next 12 years per the terms of his buyout (per capgeek.com). 

Though it's unfortunate that the business realities of the NHL game necessitated this move on the Ranger part, that shouldn't change how we view Richards' tenure in New York. For both the club and the player, this seems like it was a win-win relationship.

Feature photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports/Charles LeClaire

Jun 20, 12:32 PM

Report: Brad Richards bought out by Rangers

Jun 20, 12:32 PM

The Big Apple dropped on Brad Richards' time with the New York Rangers.

The move is not altogether unexpected, and could serve to shake up the plans of several teams heading into free agency.

Richards signed a front-loaded nine-year, $60-million dollar deal signed prior to the 2011-12 season, and will continue to reel in some decent paycheques from the Rangers front office.

In 210 games with the Rangers over the course of three seasons, Richards scored 56 goals and added 95 assists.

Feature photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports/Charles LeClaire

Jun 17, 5:19 PM

Brad Richards' agent believes he'll return to Rangers next season

Jun 17, 5:19 PM

If you look at the New York Rangers' salary cap situation, the salary cap recapture risk represented by Brad Richards' contract, and the club's myriad of useful players headed to free agency this summer; it becomes obvious that Richards is among the most likely candidates to be the target of a compliance buyout before June 30.

His agent Pat Morris of Newport Sports Management agency isn't convinced. Morris seems to believe that there's a chance that Richards will return to Manhattan next season.

"Maybe that’s my heart rather than my head [talking]," Morris admitted on Sportsnet's Hockey Central at Noon Tuesday afternoon. "But with the commentary from Glen Sather, he was pretty positive about Brad’s role, especially after [former captain Ryan] Callahan left."

Though Morris is hopeful that his client will remain with the Rangers, he acknowledged that with the Rangers' pending salary cap crunch this summer, "something has to give somewhere." 

Jun 16, 2:42 PM

Brad Richards declines media availability; Rangers say no decision yet on potential buyout

Jun 16, 2:42 PM

The narrative surrounding the New York Rangers dressing room shifted to Brad Richards well before the team returned to clean it out Monday, but questions regarding management's plans for the former superstar remain unanswered. 

Richards steered clear of the media as he collected his belongings for possibly the final time, while head coach Alain Vigneault maintained the team has yet to make a decision regarding his future, per NHL.com's Dan Rosen

Should they opt against utilizing their compliance buyout, Richards's front-loaded nine-year, $60-million dollar deal signed prior to the 2011-12 season will continue to cost the Rangers $6.67 million on their cap until 2020. 

Severing ties with the 13-year veteran will cost Rangers brass $12.66 million over the next 12 seasons, but they will incur a minimal cap penalty over the next two seasons with the core of their Eastern Conference championship roster in tact. 

Richards scored 20 goals and 51 points this season, continuing to provide diminishing returns that fail to warrant the salary he commands. 

Jun 3, 6:36 PM

Glen Sather on possible Brad Richards buyout: 'That decision will come in the summer'

Jun 3, 6:36 PM

The New York Rangers are primed for their first Stanley Cup Final appearance in 20 years, but alternate captain Brad Richards and general manager Glen Sather spent a good portion of "Stanley Cup media day" fielding questions about Richards' future in the Big Apple.

"I’ve thought about it a lot," Sather admitted on Tuesday per Pro Hockey Talk. "But it’s not something that we’re thinking about right now. We’re focused on what we’re doing, what the team is doing, how we’re going to play, who we’re playing against."

Continued Sather, "Certainly haven’t thought much about it lately. But that decision will come in the summer. It’s like all the decisions, we’ve got lots of free agents to sign. We’re happy with the way it is right now."

Richards' contributions have been key for New York in the postseason, and he's managed 11 critical points in 20 games played while logging second-line minutes at even-strength. Under the guidance of first-year Rangers bench boss Alain Vigneault, Richards resurrected his career this past season with 20 goals and 51 points - although his territorial deployment and matchups were carefully managed.

Qualifications aside, Richards has authored a solid bounce-back season after he was a healthy scratch in the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs. "It was the lowest point of my career," Richards said of his performance in the postseason a year ago. "You never want to be on the outside looking in when your teammates are battling in what I consider to be the best part of hockey — the playoffs."

As for the potential of a summer buyout, Richards described it as kind of an afterthought at the moment. He's got a second Stanley Cup to win, after all. "I’ve been too busy," Richards said. "It’s not the right time to think about it. It would hurt my game and it would hurt the team if I was worrying about it, so I haven’t really thought about it."

The Rangers decided against using a compliance buyout on Richards' nine-year, $60-million dollar contract last summer, but they'll have another opportunity to clear the aging center's $6.66 million cap-hit off of the books later this month. It'll be their last such opportunity since the salary cap hit clearing "compliance buyouts" expires after this summer.

Looking over the fundamentals, it's clear that buying-out Richards may be a necessary evil for the Rangers. The Eastern Conference champs currently have nearly $54 million in salary cap space committed to just 13 players against an expected $69-70 million salary cap upper-limit for next season, which puts them in a bit of a precarious position this summer. 

With a number of key restricted free agents due a raise (Derick Brassard, Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello and John Moore) and some additional veteran pieces due a big payday as unrestricted free agents (Brian Boyle, Anton Stralman), an aging $6.66 million second-line center seems like a luxury item the Rangers may not be able to afford going forward.

But that's a subject for another day from a Rangers perspective. And tough decisions can seem much less complicated in the afterglow of a championship victory.

If he's bought out later this month, Richards will be due a shade over $1 million per year through the 2025-26 league year. Based on his performance this season, there will also be significant demand for his services as an unrestricted free agent, should he hit the "secondary market" after a compliance buyout. One wouldn't have said that last summer.

[H/T Pro Hockey Talk. Contract information courtesy capgeek.com]

Dec 23, 5:26 PM

TSN's McKenzie thinks Rangers will use compliance buyout on Richards

Dec 23, 5:26 PM

Hockey insider Bob McKenzie joined TSN Radio 1050 Monday afternoon and was asked about the struggles of the New York Rangers. 

As well as mentioning he has been surprised by goaltender Henrik Lundqvist's performance, McKenzie noted the Rangers will look to free up cap space by buying out center Brad Richards.

"They gotta buy him out, unless he comes back and plays like a legit number one center. Flashes of being pretty good and what have you won't be good enough. They'll have no choice but to take the compliance buyout."

Richards signed with the Rangers in 2011 as one of the biggest free agent acquisitions league-wide. Richards struggled to produce the way he was thought to when he was acquired and his nine-year $60-million contract is not going to be viable for the cash-strapped Rangers.