Richie Stays

With a busy off season already in full swing, the Rangers made an important decision Friday not to buyout Brad Richards. They could’ve amnestied him to free up more room this summer. Instead, the former Conn Smythe winner stays put for at least another year.

He’ll get the chance to play under new coach Alain Vigneault. A more offensive oriented mind who likes to pinch the D when the opportunity arises. Richards gets a reprieve following a dismal second year in Manhattan. Despite inconsistency, he still ranked third in team scoring with 34 points (11-23-34). The 33-year old veteran center struggled severely in the playoffs tallying just a goal. A step behind against the Bruins, he was benched by former coach John Tortorella the final two games.  A controversial move that may have contributed to his dismissal. Ironic considering how close they were, winning with Tampa.

“I’ve got to start over, so that starts probably in about a week or two,” Richards expressed after the season. “I can control that. That’s one thing I can control all summer is how I prepare, and if I do all that, then I’ll be confident and happy how I enter the season … I signed here to be a Ranger a lot longer than a year and a half, and I still hope to do that, but I have to take care of how I can play, and that’s all on me.”

By bringing Richie back, Glen Sather is putting faith in a proven player who’s fully capable of bouncing back. If he gets hurt, they run the risk of not being able to buy him out next summer. He’s signed through 2019-20 with a cap hit of $6.67 million. Daily News Rangers beat writer Pat Leonard had more on the contract and how it could affect the club long term.

Still, the new “Cap Advantage Recapture” clause in the NHL’s and NHLPA’s new collective bargaining agreement likely will force the Rangers to buy out Richards’ contract in the summer of 2014 regardless of how he performs.The “CAR” clause seeks to penalize teams for doling out massive, frontloaded contracts under the previous CBA. It forces teams who have signed a player to a frontloaded contract to absorb that player’s remaining cap hit for the remainder of his original term in the event he retires early.
So if Richards were to retire from the Rangers following the 2016-17 season – when his signing bonus money stops coming in – the Rangers will have paid him approximately $51.96 million in salary by that point but only absorbed $37.2 million of it on the team’s salary cap (numbers adjusted due to lockout, to reflect that just 58% of the scheduled 2012-13 season was played).
The “CAR” clause would force the Blueshirts to absorb the remaining $14.75 million evenly through the remaining three years on Richards’ original contract, meaning an annual cap hit of $4.9 million for the next three seasons without Richards even playing for the team.
The Rangers will owe Richards the remaining $10 million of his $28 million total signing bonus regardless of how they proceed next summer. But if they had used a compliance buyout, the Rangers would have had to pay Richards just two-thirds of his remaining $36 million in salary – or $24 million – spread over two times the remaining length of his contract.

With Richards staying put, that leaves Sather less room to re-sign Ryane Clowe, who continued to insist he loves it here. There’s no margin for error with key restricted’s Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh, who are each due significant raises. Carl Hagelin must also be re-signed along with John Moore. Unless he can get creative, it could be a dull summer.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of New York administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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