The new NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement created a clause that every team would be subject to two amnesty buyouts that wouldn't result in a cap penalty. The Rangers already did what they had to with Wade Redden for their first cut, but the team will still have one more in their back pocket.
That leads to Brad Richards.
On July 2, 2011, the Rangers and Richards agreed to a nine-year $58.5 million deal. It was a heavily front-loaded contract, paying Richards $12 million in the first two years of the deal, and tapering off as much where Richards would only receive $1 million in the final three years of the deal.
However, thanks to cap circumvention — a tactic used around the NHL to fudge the old salary cap system — Richards' cap hit for all nine years of the deal would be his average salary over the length of the contract ($6.67 million). This allowed teams to pay free agents the most money up front, making it more likely the star would sign.
It worked in New York for both sides as Richards would receive $24 million in the first two years of his contract, and the Rangers would have a cap hit of just $6.67 million to deal with for the rest of the contract. They key component, however, was that the league salary cap was on the rise, to $70.2 million.
That however, has changed thanks to the new CBA, and the cap will significantly drop to $64.3 million in 2013-14.
So, Richards' $6.67 million cap hit no longer has a place on the team. This summer, Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin and Ryan McDonagh will all be restricted free agents, and they will all be looking for a fair raise in salary.
That's a lot of Ranger players looking to get paid, and that's also not much wiggle room in the cash department to do so. Someone will be on their way out, and Richards willbe the No. 1 option.
Aside from the cap situation, his play has really declined. Have Ranger fans seen Richards do anything in the above video as a member of the New York franchise? Didn't think so.
He was benched for just about the entire third period of the team's 2-1 shootout loss to the New York Islanders, and he just isn't the same player he was a few years ago. If he's declining now, guess where he'll be at the age of 38.
He is getting out-played by other teams' first-line centers, is stagnant as a member on the power play and can't dangle through the defense like he's been able to in years past.
Even if John Tortorella and the Rangers want him back, perhaps they can work out a new team friendly deal after the buyout. But his $6.67 million hit is just too much for this team moving forward, who even without him on the books will have trouble making everything work financially as it is.
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