At first glance, the Brad Richards signing seems like another big-name signing from Glen Sather. A few days ago I published an article about why the Richards contract was a good one, but I didn't go into too much detail over how well Richards fits into this team and the system.
Let's look at the obvious factor: his relationship with John Tortorella. One of the biggest reasons why this move was a good fit was because Tortorella requested it. Nick went into detail yesterday on how Sather has built the team Tortorella wants, but this particular move goes even deeper than that. The Rangers needed a top-line center, and they needed a quarterback for the power play. Richards fits both roles, and the coach of the team (who will chose where and how he plays) has already won a Stanley Cup with him.
But again, this has more to do than just with what Richards will bring to the table himself, it has a lot to do with what he will do for the players around him.
Marian Gaborik, despite having a sub-par second season with the Rangers, has still scored 64 goals and added 134 points in 138 games for New York. Imagine what he could have done with an elite playmaker feeding him the puck?
I have said this before and I will say it again: One of the best attributes about Richards is the fact that he knows where his line mates like the puck, and he is skilled enough to get it there. Once him and Gaborik spend a few weeks in pre-season working with one another, Richards will be able to hit Gaborik's tape with a pass if he were wearing a blindfold.
Remember what Gaborik did himself (42 goals in 76 games) two years ago? Now add Richards into that equation and imagine the possibilities.
Join me after the jump for more.
When the Rangers signed Gaborik I made an argument that he would make space for other players simply because of his presence on the ice. Originally, that was the case, but as games worse on teams realizes they could shut the Rangers down by simply shadowing Gaborik.
Now, that's no longer a possibility.
Richards is one of those rare players who makes everyone around him better. His ability to find an open man and get him the puck is among the best in the NHL.
Case and point: In his 10-year career Richards has surpassed 60 assists twice (68 assists is his career high). He has surpassed 50 assists four times, and 45 assists or more six times and over 40 assists nine times. His career-high in points is 91 (he's hit that mark twice in his career) and he has scored 70 points or more in six of his ten seasons. The lowest point total in his career was in 2008-2009 when he only notched 48 points in 56 games for the Dallas Stars.
We just went over what type of impact Richards feeding ability will have on Gaborik, but let's flip the coin. What can Gaborik do for Richards?
Last year Richards scored 28 goals and added 49 assists for 77 point in 72 games with the Stars (those numbers are even more impressive when you realize that he returned too early from his concussion and wasn't himself till the final six games of the year). He put up those numbers with Brenden Morrow, Loui Eriksson and James Neal as the top goal scorers last year (Morrow lead the way with 33).
While all of those guys are solid players, they are nowhere near the caliber of Gaborik, especially when it comes to lighting the lamp. Gaborik, when healthy, is another rare player who has the ability to make something out of nothing, something he does often. Gaborik's blazing knock-your-socks-off speed helps him make space and earns him a plethora of breakaway opportunities. Now the Rangers have a legitimate feeder to get the puck to him in those situations, but they also have a player who can get him the puck outside of those circumstances.
Let me throw a disclaimer here before I open the floor to you guys. Although his contract is massive the honest expectations for Richards should hover around 70+ points a season. Does he have the capability to put up 91 points again? Of course, he has the talent (and now the pieces) to put up over 100 points a year. But to assume that Richards will be putting up 100 points a year is lunacy.
OK guys, now the floor is yours. Thoughts?