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Oceanside, CA • United States • 33 Years Old • Male
First, this series is not over. I want to be clear on that. Obviously the chances of us winning took a severe hit with Wednesday night's loss. But, if we take it one game at a time, this Rangers club is capable of winning 3 games in a row.

This post is going to look at something else that's been close to the minds of Rangers fans. It's actually something we've talked about most of the season; the possibility of signing soon-to-be-free-agent center Brad Richards.

Richards is the legitimate, top line center we lack. Most of us feel he would be the perfect complement for sniping winger Marian Gaborik and would go a long way toward solving our PP woes. I don't think you'll find many Ranger fans that don't believe Richards would address several of our shortcomings. However, still fresh in our minds are the horrible contracts Slats bestowed on 2 other big-name free agent centers; Scott Gomez and Chris Drury. We don't want to repeat those errors.

While there is no doubt Richards is a legitimate top line center, and Gomez and Drury were not, there is still concern over Richards' age. He will be 32 in May. The feeling is that anything more than 5 years (age 32 - 36 seasons) might end up being a case of paying too much money to a declining asset. That fear is justified of course. So what's a guy like me to do? I look to recent history and find a comparable player to see how that guy performed during the seasons he was 32+.

Now it isn't always easy to find a perfect comparable. In fact, if I was Glen Sather, I would do a far more in-depth search than the one I did. I don't get paid to do what Slats does and until I do I am more than justified to cut some corners. I am simply making an argument that suggests the conclusion I will eventually reach constitutes food for thought, so to speak.

So, which player have I chosen as a close comparable to Brad Richards? One of the first names to come to mind, and a guy I remember watching a lot as a youngster, is Adam Oates. Both Richards and Oates are, or in the case of Oates, was, a top playmaking center known more for setting up goals rather than scoring them. Neither player is a big guy nor did they play a physical style of hockey. Is it perfect? Maybe not but it's close enough for me.

To exemplify the similarities, Oates for his career scored 1.06 PPG. Richards has posted 0.93 PPG. Of course Oates played part of his career in an era where goal scoring was much more prevalent. In 1993-1994 for example, teams scored an average of 3.24 GPG. This season, clubs averaged 2.71 GPG. That is a 16.4% decrease. It is greater than the 12.3% difference between Oates' and Richards PPG marks. Once we normalize the differences, it is clear Oates and Richards are similar players insofar as offensive production.

The following will show how many points-per-game (PPG) Oates recorded each season from 1994 - 1995 through 2001 - 2002; Oates' 32 to 39 year-old seasons.

94-95 1.10 PPG
95-96 1.31 PPG
96-97 1.03 PPG
97-98 0.93 PPG
98-99 0.92 PPG
99-00 0.87 PPG
00-01 1.01 PPG
01-02 0.975 PPG

That's a total of 700 points scored in 659 games or an average of 1.06 PPG. That average is surprisingly the same as the career level for Oates.

Oates' point scoring decline from 94-95 to 01-02 measured 11.4%. The overall drop in offense in the NHL was 12.4%. That means there were 12.4% fewer goals scored in 2001-2002 than there were potted in 1994-1995. That suggests Oates' production didn't really drop at all relative to the league average.

I'm not saying this should be the only evidence we, or the Rangers rather, examine prior to feeling confident in extending Brad Richards a contract that makes him a Ranger until he is 38 or 39. What this does show is that it is possible Richards can maintain his level of production enough to warrant a contract of that length that also pays him a fair amount of money.

This exercise has actually made me more of a believer. If I had the time, like Slats does, I would certainly look at other players who are similar to Brad Richards to gauge how they aged into their mid-30's. In today's salary cap world, knowing we may have to add term in order to keep the cap hit down on any potential Richards contract, having this type of information allows for us to make better decisions.
Filed Under:   Brad Richards   Rangers   Adam Oates  
April 21, 2011 11:16 PM ET | Delete
nice job Glenny
April 21, 2011 11:26 PM ET | Delete
good stuff glen. his concussion is concerning though
April 22, 2011 12:15 AM ET | Delete
Love it Glen! Like TJM mentions, concussions, they have seemed to haunt us...
April 22, 2011 4:45 AM ET | Delete
Do the Rangers have the 7 or 8 million in cap space that would be necessary to acquire Richards?
April 22, 2011 8:16 AM ET | Delete
Glen great job!! Yea baby Richards addresses so many problems this team has. In saying that anything over 7 million might be hard to swallow.
April 22, 2011 11:54 AM ET | Delete
KEEP COLLECTING STARS.....OVERPAID AND UNDERACHIEVED!!! MAKE ME SMILE EVERYTIME :) GABORIK, DRURY, REDDEN......:) $21M FOR 23 GOALS AND 30 ASSTS. THAT IS WORSE THAN OUR DP CONTRACT....IF YOU WANT DP YOU CAN HAVE HIM TOO....WE WILL PAY FOR YOU TO TAKE HIM, IT WILL HELP AGAINST YOUR RIDICULOUS CAP
April 22, 2011 12:01 PM ET | Delete
@ al- yes, it wouldn't be easy to fit given the RFA's we have but it can be done. Fortunately we have a couple of key players still under their entry level deals plus Staal and Girardi's deal may be below [email protected] Isles - Keep thinking that. We finally learned we need to build with youth and augment with FA. I would also say that despite your more favorably drft positionds over the last several years, we have as many talented young players in our lineup as you.
April 22, 2011 4:25 PM ET | Delete
Cool thanks
April 22, 2011 8:41 PM ET | Delete
ONLY THE PENS AND CAPS HAVE HIGHER PAYROLLS THAN THE RAGS...THEY ARE SUCCESSFUL (PENS EVEN W/ $16M OUT OF THE LINEUP ON IR)....LOL HOW DO YOU JUSTIFY
April 22, 2011 9:52 PM ET | Delete
Payroll is one thing and cap space is another. Like it or not, Redden is going away either home or to Hartford again. Frolov, Gilroy, Prospal, Eminger all go away freeing up more space. The club has cap space if they are careful. Hell, buying out Wolski and Boogaard saves them over $4 million if they go that route. Check yourself, this isn't the same old careless spending Rangers. They have a chance this off-season to elevate themselves into the uper echelon in the East.
April 23, 2011 8:38 AM ET | Delete
in a salary cap league, the only fans obsessed with other teams payrolls are probably fans of a team living in the ancient past. Probably one that hasn't even won a single playoff series since 1993.
April 25, 2011 2:48 AM ET | Delete
April 25, 2011 8:48 AM ET | Delete
@GKM I AGREE YOU HAVE GOTTEN A WORLD BETTER IN THE PAST FEW YEARS W/ YOUR PLAYER DEVELOPMENT BUT IN RICHARDS CASE YOU WOULD HAVE TO PAY HIM ROUGHLY $12M/YR FOR HIM TO TAKE HOME WHAT HE WAS IN TEXAS (A TAX FRIENDLY STATE) IF I WAS SATHER I WOULD GET GABORIK ON THE NEXT TRAIN OUT OF PENN AND SAVE THE [email protected] THE ARTICLE IS ALL ABOUT PAYROLL SCHMUCK!! ANCIENT PAST? LOL HOW MANY "POTVIN SUCKS" CHANTS YOU BEEN PART OF...DENNIS LOVES IT!!!
April 25, 2011 8:02 PM ET | Delete
Isles4, That may be but Dallas won't be able to pay him $7 mil until they get their ownership situation straight. He's publicly limited his likely destinations, though that could always change. It will depend on what he wants. Does he want to go to TO where the might offer the most, or to NY where he is familiar with the coach and the Rangers are a better team than TO?
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