New York Rangers Analysis: Why The Richards Deal Is A Good One

LOS ANGELES, CA - FILE: Brad Richards #91 of the Dallas Stars skates against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on April 2, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. It was reported that free agent Brad Richards agreed to a contract with the New York Rangers July 2, 2011. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Sorry for the delay on this type of a post guys. Was away from the computer for a couple of days and couldn't get anything onto the site. Thank the guys for stepping up in my absence. 

Anyway, onto the Brad Richards contract. 

When word first started leaking Friday night that Glen Sather had offered Richards a nine-year pact, people began to panic. But once the terms of the deal were released and the dust settled I fell in love with the move. At first glance it seems like Sather went on another one of his spending sprees, and just targeted the biggest name he could find and got him at whatever cost possible. 

That's not the case. 

This was not an ill-advised attempt by Sather to cram another high-risk big name player under the cap. This was not Sather trying to jam a square peg into a round hole. And it certainly wasn't a blind grab at the biggest name in the free agent pool, just because of his name.

Instead, this was a well calculated move which fits perfectly into the Rangers plans. Don't worry about what you see other teams writers saying about the move. They're bitter, and they should be, Richards is a rare difference maker in the NHL, and he'll be on Broadway next season.

Join me after the jump for more. 

The contract is even more favorable to the Rangers than I originally thought. The very-friendly $6.666 million cap hit is an absolute steal for the first three or four years of the contract, and will start leveling out towards the end of the deal. Which, incidentally, brings us to the part of the contract most people are worried about: the final few years. 

Richards, who turned 31 in May, was scouted by Mark Messier earlier in the year so that the Rangers' brass could get a grip on what type of shape he is in. The end analysis was that Richards was a phenomenal athlete who is still in his prime and has many good years left in him. 

Players like Richards do lose a step (everyone does), but they are still effective because it's his vision and intelligence that makes him dangerous. He is a brilliant playmaker, and one of those rare players that makes everyone around him more dangerous. He's a good skater, but doesn't need it to beat other teams, his hockey IQ takes care of that. 

He loves to shoot the puck when he is quarterbacking the power play, something he will be doing often in New York. And he is a leader by example, and will fill the shoes that Chris Drury left in that department immediately. 

If Richards play does tail off, however, the last three years of his deal are at $1 million dollars each, which would make the contract an easy buyout or a very lucrative one to use as trade bait for a team looking to reach the cap floor without having to pay for it (he would still have a $6.666 million cap hit despite his salary).

In the end, the move was a no-brainer. Players like Brad Richards don't come around very often, and when they do you don't let them pass up.

Tomorrow I will have a story on how well Richards fits into the system. For today, however, enjoy your Fourth of July, and make sure if you lose any extremities they are your toes. You need your fingers to comment on the Banter!

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