Brad Richards rewrites his Rangers legacy as buyout looms

May 15th, 2014 at 6:14 am by Bill

Last year Brad Richards found himself a healthy scratch in the playoffs. As if that weren’t embarrassing enough, his removal from the lineup was at the command of John Tortorella, the same coach he won a Stanley Cup and a Conn Smythe with in Tampa Bay.

His benching was the rotten cherry on top of an underwhelming season. There were strong arguments to use the team’s last amnesty buyout on Richards this past summer. Glen Sather and the Rangers chose not to do so, which I found surprising. But then again, there was no true rush. There was always next summer.

The general sentiment about Richards game this season is he has improved. However, optics can be deceiving. In fact, Richards rate stats in the regular season were actually worse than last season.  In all situations, he has scored (15%) fewer points per 60 minutes than last year.

Brad  Richards New York Rangers Stats

So why didn’t perception match reality? Because Richards was slotted properly as a third line center from the start this season. Derek Stepan and Derick Brassard cemented themselves as the one-two punch up front and Richards was given minutes commensurate with his ability on a playoff caliber team. He wasn’t needed to be a number one center and certainly wasn’t expected to perform at that level. But what he did do was provide excellent third line minutes and contribute on the power play.

In the playoffs, Richards has visibly emerged as one of the key leaders on the club along with Martin St. Louis and Henrik Lundqvist. It’s pure speculation on my part, but with Ryan Callahan out of the locker room, it seems as though it was Richards who filled the void. After the embarrassing game four loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins that put the Rangers in a 3-1 hole, it was Richards who closed the doors to the locker room and refocused the team. Richards would go on to score the game winner in game seven.

In 14 playoff games thus far, Richards has four goals and nine points, which leads leads the team. He’s scoring at a 2.3 P/60 clip in all situations. Richards has nine points playing in a third line role. Prior to the return of Chris Kreider, he had Carl Hagelin and then one of Dan Carcillo, JT Miller, and Jesper Fast on his wings.

Richards has gone a long way to rewrite his Rangers legacy this post-season. A legacy which will most certainly (and should) end in an amnesty buyout this summer. The ramifications of his contract and the cap recapture penalty have been discussed at length, but his contract is simply too onerous to willingly keep on the books. And despite his play this post-season, he’s still a third line center. Though Richards needs just eight more wins to be a permanent fixture in New York Rangers lore.


7 thoughts on “Brad Richards rewrites his Rangers legacy as buyout looms

  1. 071189

    Yes Richards is a 3rd line center and on the downside of his career. Numerous posts, including one of mine, were made the day of the signing that , despite what an insane Sather was stating, Richards was a candidate for the next league proposed team buyouts. Sather kept saying that the contract wasn’t that bad after 3 years, and that the Rangers would have options. Sort of like Sather trading Callahan and 2 #1 draft choices and saying how he made the trade to protect the Ranger’s future.

    1. Bill Goldthorpe Post author

      There really was nothing wrong with Sather trading Callahan and the two firsts for MSL. This has been vetted already. The Rangers future is right now. I’m tired of Rangers fans talking about the future in perpetuity. At some point, you need to fucking win.

    2. bill_goldthorpe

      The Rangers need to win right now. They don’t need to constantly concern themselves with the future. You can’t keep building towards the future in perpetuity. I’m tired of that attitude amongst Rangers fans. Its nonsense.

  2. SaintStryfe

    I love Richie’s play this post-season and my view of him has improved. However, I think it’s safe to say he’s playing for 29 other GMs right now, not to keep his contract. Put through that lens, Richie is doing the absolute best thing he could.

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