[Note: I am very familiar with the cap situation and contracts in terms of how much people are worth and duration, but do not follow it religiously like some of you do. So any input would be appreciated.]
I’ll start this off with a question; has there been a better time to open up the wallet for a proven superstar in the last 10 years for the rangers? I think there is no denying that Brad Richards is the perfect fit for the Rangers. He is a 90 point playmaking center, quarterbacks the powerplay, 25-30 goal scorer, veteran, Stanley Cup winner, and has played for Torts before. He makes everyone around him better and has proved that in Dalls with what I would consider comparable skill level of line mates.
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The best part about Brad Richards is that fact that he doesn’t cost any assets to get. Yes he might get a contract that pays him a bit more than he might be worth, for a few years longer than we might be comfortable with, but he wouldn’t cost any prospects or valuable roster players to acquire. As much as we would like to not dole out the big contracts, sometimes it’s necessary to get a piece of the puzzle that could be integral for the next few years. Yeah it would be nice to trade for a cheaper alternative, ala Weiss, or someone signed for a shorter period, ala Spezza, but neither of those players are nearly as good a fit as Brad Richards would be.
I think that the Rangers are at a perfect point to give out a big contract to a player that seems to fix some of the biggest problems the Rangers had last year. Two of our best players Lundqvist and Gaborik are in the midst of their prime, and maybe have a few years left as dominate. To answer a question that I’m sure will be brought up I do think Gaborik will have a bounce back year. You don’t just lose talent like that overnight. In addition, all of our core players are entering their prime, or will be there in a year or two, such as Dubi, Cally, Staal, Girardi, Sauer, etc. From what I read we have enough money to sign all the important RFA’s AND give Brad Richards contract that he deserves. After all the contracts are signed, we would have the majority of our core locked up for the next 4-5 years, including Brad Richards.
Now to get to my main point, what makes this a perfect time to maybe slightly overpay for a perfect fit superstar is the depth of our farm system. As these players begin to break into the lineup they will be on entry level contracts and less expensive contracts before they turn to RFA’s. Having such a depth of prospects might allow us to overpay for a superstar who can help us win in the next 3-5 years, while having our core locked up during that time period, and infuse the rest of the lineup with cheap but effective free agent signings (such as fedetenko) or prospects who should be breaking into the lineup around then. Other than Gaborik and Lundqvist we don’t really have any big contracts, and if you look around the league most successful teams have multiple stars making 7+ million dollars. I also don’t believe that Richards will be a complete waste in 4 or 5 years, and although he might not be worth the money he makes, he should still be a 60 point guy and solid mentor to our youth.
To summarize, I think with the buyout of Drury and the demotion (or potential contract opt out) for Redden we are in a perfect cap situation to give Richards the contract he wants, while locking up the core youth for the next 3-5 years. I don’t think anyone who watched this team last year can deny that they were a player like Richards away from being serious threat. Their defense is top notch, great goaltending, but their offense struggled and their power play was atrocious. When this team was healthy they proved what they can do, going 12-4 down the stretch. Now add Richards to the mix and this team is pretty scary in my opinion.