I’m going to come right out and say it. I think this is a terrible, reckless decision.
The Rangers will not use their final compliance buyout during this window, which means Brad Richards is staying put for one more year.
I have little doubt that Richards will be better in 2013-14 than he was last season—could he really be worse?—but that is so not the point.
The point is that this is a huge gamble because if Richards is injured during the season and still injured next June, he cannot be bought out. That means the remaining six years of his contract remain on the books, with the hefty recapture clause penalties to count even more than his $6.67M annual hit if he retires before the end of the contract. That contract was designed to encourage him to retire, since it pays only $1M per for each of the last three years.
In other words, if Richards is injured when the season ends, the Rangers are going to be in cap hell until the next lockout, in 2020, even worse if he retires before then.
You—and Glen Sather and Alain Vigneaualt—may say that it’s not much of a gamble, that odds are he won’t be hurt when the next and final round of amnesty buyouts come around. OK. But did you see him play this past season?
I suspect he will bounce back, that he will work his tail off this summer and with a full camp he’ll be better, as I said earlier. But what if he’s not much better? What if he’s really incapable of playing top-six minutes or the power play? What if he’s a liability defensively? And on faceoffs? What is his skating legs are done, and that he’s still easily knocked off pucks?
Would the Rangers then send him home so he doesn’t get hurt and ruin their chances of using the buyout in June, 2014?
To me, this non-move makes no sense, not when the opportunity was sitting there, teed up, for the Rangers to get out of that bad contract and get on with getting better. I think it’s crazy.