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"Talking New York Rangers Hockey, since 2007"
New York, NY • United States • 23 Years Old • Male
Hockey fans across the New York area sat down this morning with coffee and a copy the New York Post. As they flipped through the sports section, past coverage of early season baseball and the NBA Finals, they found themselves looking at the weekly Slapshots column written by Rangers beat writer Larry Brooks. At first glance, the article, featuring a picture of Brad Richards, seemed to be on the popular topic of bringing the free agent center to the Rangers. But with greater scrutiny came great despair.

The article was indeed about Brad Richards and the Rangers

But it suggested that he would not end up coming to New York.

Brooks, quoting sources, said Richards is pursuing a multi-year deal worth a minimum of $7 million per season. Now, it is not news that the best forward to hit the free agent market this summer could command that kind of contract; Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke is all but drooling over the prospect of acquiring the 31 year old and will certainly break the bank to bring him to Toronto. However, there was a distinct possibility that Richards was going to take less money, in the range of $6.5 million per year, to play in New York for Coach John Tortorella. That, according to Brooks is off the table.

Now, whether you believe the validity of Brooks’ unnamed sources or not, a new question arises. How much should the Rangers spend to acquire the services of Brad Richards? If it took a 5 year $37.5 million contract, should GM Glen Sather pull the trigger? The answer in the New York Post was a resounding no. “The Rangers,” the article reads, “are well past trying to bribe an athlete to wear their uniform.”

But it is not really that simple.

There is validity to Brooks’ argument. The Rangers have been burned in the past by handing out big contracts to players who did not perform well on Broadway. Even since the lockout, names like Gomez, Drury, and Redden have haunted the franchise; the jury is still out on Marian Gaborik, the current “big name” playing in the Garden. In a salary cap league, one big mistake can lead to years of cap hell and many mediocre seasons, which the Rangers have been experiencing for six years running. So is there risk in signing a 31 year old with a career high of 28 goals and a concussion in his past? Absolutely.

If the Rangers sign Brad Richards for $7 million or more and he does not work out for whatever reason, an era is over. The Rangers will not be able to get the pieces they need to make a run for the Stanley Cup. There will be stuck in mediocrity until the contract expires or Sather finds a way to dump it on somebody else. Even at $6.5 million per season, Brooks points out, the acquisition of Brad Richards carries some heavy risk.

But in any buying decision, there has to be an analysis of alternatives. If there were other elite centers on the market with less risk or lesser contract demands, the Rangers would have to hold back from getting Richards. But for this offseason, there is nobody else. Now, the Rangers could wait it out and hang their hopes on a 2012 free agent or a blockbuster trade, but they may not be able to get the right guy. Even if they do, the move would come with some of the same risks that signing Richards, or any large contract, does. All things equal, the Rangers need to make the key acquisition sooner than later, before the team’s backbone, goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, gets too old to carry the club.

Acquiring Richards gives the Rangers a chance. It may work out, it may not. But it is a chance. If Sather, for once in his life, sits on his hands and hesitates to throw out the big bucks, they will have no chance.

The Rangers can’t win it all with the personnel they have now. Someone needs to be brought in, and it is going to cost money and carry risk. Wait for a different chance, and it will cost members of the organization in a trade. Wait for a different chance and it will cost the organization its window of opportunity.

For once, Glen, you need to make the risky move.
June 5, 2011 3:00 PM ET | Delete
Good blog ragsy. 500k-1million isn't that much more. Richards is a true number 1 center unlike Gomez and drury when they signed. Spezza is a very good player, but don't like the idea of trading the farm for him. He has missed time due to injuries as well
June 5, 2011 4:45 PM ET | Delete
The rangers are flush with cash they can bury all their mistakes in the minors(drury will be next), if they could get richards to a 3 year deal for 7 million that would be ok for them, but signing a 31 year old guy for a 5-6 year deal seems more likley to be a fail in the later half of the deal. The upside of a guy like richards is obvious in the short term tho, he will help the power play and help gabrick to be the 40 goal scorer they need assuming he can continue to stay in the line-up.
June 5, 2011 5:59 PM ET | Delete
Question: why can't we - The Rangers, duh- sign him to one of those 8 year contracts where the cap hit is maybe $5 million? MSG has the money so that's not a problem. This way we get the player, keep the cap hit low, and as the cap rises the hit works itself out. I HATE the rule, but use the damn thing to get THE player we need and have cap space to spare. Hey Mr. Sather this is common sense knocking...Open the F'N door
June 5, 2011 6:23 PM ET | Delete
They changed the rules, so those deals are not as cap friendly.
June 5, 2011 8:46 PM ET | Delete
oiloverload, Drury has a complete no movement clause meaning he can't be waived/traded unless he approves it. no way he will approve being sent to the minors. the only likely option is to buy him out.
June 6, 2011 5:12 PM ET | Delete
I'm wondering why we can't start to upgrade via the trade route? We are neck deep in defenseman prospects (for once!)... but they all can't play! With Staal-Girardi-McDonagh-Sauer in the mix for the foreseeable future that leaves little room for the Del Zotto's
June 6, 2011 6:01 PM ET | Delete
The problem with trading for an elite player is you need to overpay with players/picks/prospects to get that. Even if you argue we can afford that, still we could get Richards for no return of players. Then, there is the added point that someone we get in a trade may also have a high salary/risks associated with him. Therefore, it would be best to go the free route and take BR.
June 14, 2011 7:19 PM ET | Delete
you guys are forgetting a MAJOR THING here. Dubinski, Cally, and Artem are coming off rookie contracts and are due BIG raises. Buying out Drury only opens up 3.3 million in cap space, that space MAY OR MAY NOT cover re-signing those 3. Lots of bad money on that team and the league is now watching cap-circumvention acts. If the Ranjerks want Brad they gotta deal $ and NO TEAM in the CAP ERA will take Wolski for 3.8 for example.
June 18, 2011 9:23 PM ET | Delete
June 18, 2011 9:27 PM ET | Delete
Toronto is in a way better position to sign Brad Richards. Plus we can offer him alot more than the Rangers. At one time during the season just before a game between Dallas and Toronto Brad said he would love to play for the Leafs. Then when the Trade deadline came the story was he wasnts to play for the Rangers which i believe was just to get more money when July 1 rolls around. I give the Leafs the best chance and frontrunner for Brad.Until then we will see. Good luck to all teams.
June 19, 2011 12:14 AM ET | Delete
The Rangers will have enough space to sign Richards at the max contract. The question is, for how much is he worth it. Not going to explain cap situation to you guys, but its is pretty pathetic that you post about it when you are so ignorant on the topic.
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