Brooks writes that this will be a critical summer for Richards and the Rangers with the cap going down to $60 million, “so for all intents and purposes, the Rangers will have to declare next summer on Richards. This is one on which they won’t be able to procrastinate, even as particularly painful as such a decision would ultimately be for everyone involved.”
He adds,”we are 17 games into a 48-game season that could be followed by up to 28 more in the playoffs. And so, again, this Richards buyout talk is indeed a case of premature speculation. But the obligation falls on Richards to ensure it doesn’t become more than that.”
The Rangers used one of their two buyouts on Wade Redden and they have the opportunity to use their second compliance buyout this summer or next.
Richards, 32, has a no-move clause and seven more seasons on his contract following this one with a cap hit of $6.67 million.
Adam Rotter: With the salary cap going down and nearly everone’s contract expiring in 2014, it is something that the Rangers need to consider. Heading into the season I dismissed any notion that the Rangers would use a buyout on Richards, but since then he has struggled mightily to even be the streaky player he was last season. Maybe it all stems from the flu in training camp and after a summer or working hard and a full training camp, Richards, at 33, returns to being an effective player. Maybe all the minutes he has played in his career have caught up to him, and like Scott Gomez, he has become a shell of who he was.
I still want to believe in Richards and hope that it all just clicks against Winnipeg. He is an important person in the locker room and has become a big player in the community, but that can only take you so far. It’s up to him to make this a topic that we can look back on and laugh about the Rangers even considering.