All discussion is about signing an aging center with recent concussion problems, namely Brad Richards. Brad Richards is a quality player that has proven that he will put up huge numbers, but also comes with a huge paycheck that will lock the team towards the cap ceiling.
As we talk of signing Brad Richards two players come to mind as people that we need to dump or buy out. Chris Drury would need to be bought out and Wolski would either need to be bought out or traded off. Really I dont care what happens to Drury if he is bought out or retires or whatever but Wolski might be to soon to give up on.
Also looking at the free agents available this year the class is not very deep. I mean we have been discussing seriously the acquisition of Brooks Liach, as a big move. He is a great depth player but we have a team full of depth players.
This season has proven that the New York Rangers have no first line, nor a fourth line they are a team consisting of second and third lines. These lines are not even defined because on any given night the bottom line will look like our best line.
will turn 31 on May 2nd, is 6' tall and 195 pounds, Currently has a cap hit of 7.8 mil
Played 72 games Record: 28, 49, 77
Played 80 games 91 points
Looking back he has had some injury history but has still put up big numbers throughout his long career. One thing to note is his shooting percentage went back into the double digits in the 2010-2011 season which is the first time since 2003-2004.
My Conclusion on Brad Richards:
Brad Richards is a great player that is going to be a premier player for the next couple of seasons at least. He has had injuries and he might have a Teemu Selanne type career, although he has not broken the 100 point boundary yet like Selanne. I personally feel he is a great center that has the ability to refine Derek Stepan into the quality first line center that will replace Richards. I should note that I do not feel that Anisimov is the future number 1 over Stepan. The bad about Richards is the huge contract we will have to give an aging player with recent concussion problems. Will Richards take a discount to play for NY I completely doubt that he will. Will we have to pay more for him then he gets paid now, I really hope not but if we dont give him a long contract you can bet your ass that we will have to give him a huge one to swing him.
I feel we only need him for around 3 seasons in order to help solidify and improve the young talent that is on this team. If his contract is going to be as steep as it was he will give us complications in the future with the cap space. Also if we need to sign him for more then a few years he has a low chance of being worth his huge cap hit and will turn into the next veteran that we want to hang upside down and beat the money out of them like a pinata. Assuming he is going to be a cap hit of 7.8 mil and that we need to buy out Drury to sign him and retain our needed RFA's he will only put us in a crunch in a few years. Next season Zuccs needs to be resigned and Prust is up for UFA. If Zuccs breaks out this coming season it would be hard to squeeze another decent size contract in the books considering that the buy out of Drury will still be with us. Also Prust will need a raise nothing epic but it has to be something. The season after that is scarier though because both Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh need to be resigned. Both of these kids have the potential of netting decent sized contracts in two seasons, if they continue to improve like they have. This season would put us in a crunch if we have Richards, Gaboriks, and Hanks, large contracts, as well as Dubinsky, Callahans, and Staals decent size contracts on the books.
In a nut shell if we can make sure we have the cap space to retain McDonagh and Stepan in 2013-2014 then we can bring on Richards till 2014-2015 when his and Gaboriks contracts will expire. Marc Staal and Lundqvist will be up for free agency while the free agent pool becomes very deep with talented players when the two contracts expire. Sedins, Malkin, Vanek, Datsyuk, Statsny, to just name a few of the big players that have expiring contracts and UFA qualifications the year that we could lose Gaboriks and Richards salary.
6'3, 215 pounds, Played 37 games with the NYR and had a record of 6, 13, 19. This was also his worst season in his nhl career. I would like to retain Wolski for this upcoming season for one reason only. He is an enigmatic player with tons of skill and no work ethic that will have a reason to skate hard next season. The reason is because he is going into a contract year and if you recognize players like Wolski this means he has potential to have a huge season conveniently before his contract is up. I feel that Wolski will have a huge season before his contract expires possibly having a career high in points especially if there are very skilled guys playing with him. Id like to keep him and hope that he is having a huge season, then when the trade deadline comes if he is playing well and is on an expiring contract he might be worth some really solid picks or we keep him for a playoff run (he is a great playoff player and tied for the team lead in points this season in the playoffs with very limited ice time, not that he deserved more time from his work ethic though).
Looking to the 2012-2013 free agent pool.
It is deeper then this coming pool by far. Of course the top 10 center is not there but there are big time players available. Also if Drury is not bought out he will be completely off the cap this season as well as Sean Avery's 2mil hit, and possibly Wolski if we do not wish to retain him (I wouldnt unless its always for 1 year contracts so he will have incentive to play hard).
If we wait until next year to sign free agents we will have more money to sign players while having a slightly better idea of what Stepan and McDonagh are going to be worth, having no strings dangling from buyouts, and having most of our RFA's retained with cap room to retain the remainders.
Available players in this free agent stock fit our system better and can bring the skill and talent we need to have a real first line without sacrificing the incredible depth that we enjoy. Players to look at in that UFA are (listed in order of players that I would want to have).
This is a much deeper year with many talented players available if we choose to wait another season, then again if we dont spend to hardily we could be able to land a replacement for Gaborik in the insanely good ufa market the year his contract expires either way.
Personally if Richards does not come at a nice salary and time frame id say screw it and wait another year then we wont need to pay captain contract another two seasons to do even less then he does for us now. Also we get to watch Wolski play for a job which I feel will be a harder working player then the one we watched for half this season. Also id really like to have guys like Patrick Sharp and Lee Stempniak for a longer time then Brad Richards but if we want to target some of the great players available when Gaborik's contract (and I would hope Richards contract if he signs with us) would expire then either plan can work.
Lots of talent becoming UFA within the next three years dont need to jump in to a sellers market like this years UFA market seems to be.