According to Larry Brooks, coveted center Brad Richards has no intention of coming to New York on a discount. In fact, he's already set the bar (before any other negotiations) at $7 million a year, on a long term deal.
The Rangers have heard through the grapevine that Brad Richards will be seeking a long-term contract worth a minimum of $7 million per when the free-agent market opens on July 1, and they've heard it more than once and they've heard it from more than one source.
This means that, a) general manager Glen Sather will not be sending an asset to Dallas for the right to try and convince the 31-year-old center to sign before he hits the market; and, b) the Blueshirts already are pondering a Plan B to bring a first-line pivot to Broadway.
We're told by well-placed sources Richards has no intention of signing for a discount in order to reunite with coach John Tortorella, with whom he won the Cup with Tampa Bay in 2004. That's fine. If five years at $6.5 million per -- that's the number -- doesn't represent enough green to get Richards into a Blueshirt, then that's that.
This obviously changes everything.
Brooks goes on to speculate the Rangers will move on without Richards if this is the case, and by all means they absolutely should. There is no doubt Richards will find the type of money he is looking for, he just won't be getting it from Glen Sather. And you know what? That's OK.
The Rangers will look to a plan B immediately. Brooks goes through a few of the other options in his story, but here was what he had to say on the first replacement that came into my head when I read the news:
The Rangers will look at Jason Spezza, 28 next week and who has three years at $7 million per remaining on his deal with Ottawa that includes a no-trade clause. Even if Spezza would agree to waive it to come to New York, even if the Senators would move him, chances are GM Bryan Murray would demand far too much in return.
In the end, I have faith in Sather to do the right thing here. After the work he has done the past few years, you have to give him his due, and there's no reason to believe he's going to jump ship on the team's ideologies to throw an Ilya Kovalchuk type contract at Richards.
The Rangers don't need Richards, he would have been a fantastic grab, but the Rangers can live without him. Especially if he has that type of attitude, I don't want him here anyway. You can also forget the Rangers potentially trading for his rights.
We'll have more analysis tomorrow, but for now, thoughts on this guys?