Brad Richards’ 1 Year Deal Sets Up A Rangers Return

Brad Richards may look to Broadway next season (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Brad Richards may look to Broadway next season (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Did anyone else find it odd that Brad Richards only signed a 1 year deal? Sure, it was to go to a legit Cup contender, but there were other suitors looking to offer him more than 2 million plus more security in years.

Here’s the deal, for one season following a compliance buyout, a player is prohibited from rejoining the team that bought him out. So Brad Richards can’t be a Ranger again until 2015-16. That just happens to be when Richards becomes an unrestricted free agent.

Make no mistake, the New York Rangers did not want to buyout Brad Richards. They simply had no choice because of the cap recapture clause. Both parties simply fell in love with each other. Regardless, the move had to be made. When it was done, Richards and the Rangers were looking for a way to reunite.

The potential return was made stronger by Richards’ rejecting big money offers from the NY Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs. A return to Tampa was shot down as well when Chicago came knocking with a 1 year deal.

Hawks GM, Stan Bowman said, “I think it’s a testament to Brad and how badly he wants to win because I don’t doubt he left more money and term on the table.” The prospects of possibly playing with Patrick Kane didn’t hurt either.

“You get the itch when you get that far and you want to win,” Brad Richards told reporters. “I saw an opportunity to play on a great team, fill a role. But also these guys are relevant every year and I just thought this was a great fit. It wasn’t about trying to be here long term. If it’s one year, that’s fine. Hopefully we make it work and who knows what can happen down the road. I can’t predict that and I’m not really worried about it. I just want to get there and enjoy this opportunity.”

There is a lot of truth in that statement as well. Who knows what will happen after next year? The cap is expected to go up and give teams like NY and Chicago more signing power. However, much of that strength in Chicago will be going to Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.

In NY, the handling of their RFA’s might indicate their future intent as well. Fix your eyes on the situation with Derick Brassard who is 26 years old and may go to arbitration if he stays with his current demands of 4.5 – 5M a year. A one year deal would make him a UFA next season and a likely goner at the end of the year.

Also, there is the expiring contracts of Derek Stepan and Martin St. Louis. Stepan will be an RFA at the end of next season and we could be looking at another hold out. Marty St. Louis will be a UFA, but may re-sign for a lot less if he knew pal Brad Richards would be returning.

Glen Sather truly holds Richards in high regard. On the day of his buyout this statement was released:

“This was an extremely difficult decision to make because of how much respect I have for him. Brad’s leadership and guidance for our young players was invaluable to the organization. We are grateful to have had the professionalism and experience he brought as an example for our team to follow. Brad has been a very good player for us and an even better person. We wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

Brad Richards echoed similar sentiments:

“Tough last few days – I loved being a Ranger and living in New York and playing at MSG in front of great fans,” Richards said in a statement released by the team. “I’ve met many new friends, excellent teammates and staff, and I have memories that I will cherish for a lifetime.”

Yes, it sounds like their words closed the books. But we all know – actions speak louder than words.

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Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

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