They are the questions everyone in the hockey world is asking, especially now that the 2011 NHL Entry Draft has come and gone. Where will Brad Richards go? Will he be worth whatever contract he signs?
Larry Brooks wrote an article in the New York Post today, talking about whispers he heard during the NHL Draft. From his story:
If I heard it once, I heard it a dozen times during this Entry Draft weekend in Minnesota: "[Brad] Richards told [X] he wants to come to New York."
And this, too: "Slats [general manager Glen Sather] is going to blow his brains out to sign Richards."
To which I respond: If Richards "wants to come to New York," $32.5 million over five years -- starting at $11 million this year to protect against a potential future rollback -- should be enough money and enough of a commitment for him to achieve his dream.
And this: If Sather does indeed "blow his brains out to sign Richards," to borrow from the vernacular, then the GM truly will have lost his mind.
Richards represents a tremendously high risk, high reward scenario, especially if he is actually looking for an eight-year contract.
At best, Richards will rejuvenate Marion Gaborik, infuse like into an inconsistent power play and add another legitimate threat to give opposing defenses fits over. At worst, Richards won't put up the points expected of him but he will still be a threat on the power play and at even strength at the beginning of his tenure. It's the latter years of the deal where people see the contract as being a dangerous one.
Since Richards told Dallas he was not going to re-sign with the Stars there has been speculation that Richards wanted to come to New York and reunite with former coach (and still good friend) John Tortorella. Until the above article from Brooks was published, there was no conformation of the reports.
But if Richards wants to join a team that has a legitimate chance at becoming a Stanley Cup contender, especially if he joins the roster, there has to be a limit.
Join me after the jump for more.
Brooks goes on to talk about the risk reward level of the long-term deal Richards is looking for. From his article again:
For the Rangers to even think of giving Richards the eight years and $50 million to $55 million that apparently will be the starting point of negotiations when the market opens on Friday is so far off the charts, it shouldn't even be a consideration for a franchise that has been burned over and over and over again on long-term, pricey contracts for free agents who all "wanted to come to New York."
Don't read this as an attack on Richards, for he's not positioning himself any differently than any other player has in dealing with the Rangers. It's just, when is enough, enough, and especially for a player who has already earned close to $50 million in his career, and has spent the greater part of the last eight months telling friends he wants to play in New York?
Here is the kicker: What happens if Sather agrees the contract is out of control, and he turns Richards away? Suddenly, the Rangers are (once again) without a number one center. Suddenly the Rangers have another tremendous offensive hole to fill, and don't seem to have a solution in site for the stagnant power play. Suddenly, we're back at square one.
If this scenario pans out, and it might, the Rangers will obviously look towards a Plan B. We have gone through the names, guys like Jason Spezza, Paul Stastny and Patrick Sharp have all been brought up. But those players don't just cost money, they cost prospects and possibly draft picks.
If you covert guys like Artmen Anisimov, Derek Stepan, Christian Thomas, Chris Kreider and the likes (and you should), then you don't want to see the Rangers have to look towards a secondary plan.
See, with Richards the risk is based around his performance looks against the cap hit and the years. For a Plan B player, the risk runs who you give up and then how the Plan B player preforms alongside his cap hit and years. You also have to assume that, in the case of Stastny or Sharp, you'll be looking at a big (potentially long-term) contract down the road anyway.
So which road do you chose? The floor is yours.