Vigneault’s a big fan of Richards … but this is a business decision


Here’s my column from The Journal News and

By Rick Carpiniello

GREENBURGH – Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said Monday that no decision has been made yet on the looming amnesty buyout of Brad Richards’ contract.

But all you need to know is that Richards — who as the unofficial acting team captain had made himself so available, and had even done so at the end of last season when he was a healthy playoff scratch facing the possibility of a buyout then — chose to not address the media on break-up day.

He knows the obvious. The Rangers have no choice but to get out of his nine-year contract after three seasons — during which, it needs to be noted, they played nine playoff rounds.

Richards was the first of all the Rangers’ players to have an exit meeting with Vigneault Monday.

“I think if you look at Brad’s overall season, he had a real good year,” said Vigneault, who demoted Richards to the fourth line for the final two games of the Stanley Cup Final loss to Los Angeles.richards, ap

“In the final series … we had some decisions to make in Game 4 and Game 5. But his overall play on the power play and 5-on-5 during the year was very good. I’m very happy with what he brought to the table — a veteran player that from Day One was a real good extension of the coaching staff in that dressing room. So I mean, I think he should walk away from this season very pleased in how he played and how he contributed to our team.

“As everybody knows, there’s decisions to be made and we have to make those yet.”

It won’t be an easy decision for Vigneault as a coach, but it’s a virtual no-brainer for the organization because of the salary-cap hit ($6.67 million per) the next three seasons and the cap-advantage recapture penalty ($5.67 million per) the following three once Richards retires. Rangers general manager Glen Sather has until June 30 to exercise this last-chance buyout.

“I’m a big fan of Brad Richards,” Vigneault said. “When I got named (coach) last year, I went to meet him right after.”

Vigneault said he felt the loss to Los Angeles would “haunt” him and the team.

One player who felt the burden — more than last year when he graded his one goal in 12 games “good” — was Rick Nash, who scored three in 25 this time around.

“It was a struggle,” Nash said. “It’s frustrating. I wish I could have produced a lot more. I didn’t get the job done like I definitely wanted to. … Probably one of the most frustrating times of my career during this playoff stretch, not being able to produce.”

He had an empty net in overtime of Game 5, but his shot hit the stick of Kings defenseman Slava Voynov and went over the crossbar.

“That sums it up,” Nash said. “That was clearly going in. … It hit’s the shaft.”

Vigneault, who said every team needs to infuse young players, and that every team looks different every season, added that he has “got an idea where I’m leaning” about a new captain, likely Ryan McDonagh or Marc Staal, and that he will make that decision before or after training camp.

The Rangers almost certainly will not be able to keep all of their unrestricted free agents — including Anton Stralman, Benoit Pouliot, Brian Boyle and Dominic Moore — and might be able to keep only one of those even with Richards off the books. Stralman and Boyle will be overpaid after July 1, by some team.

The Stanley Cup finalist will change, and there’s no guarantee it will get back, or even close to it, next spring.

Twitter: @RangersReport

Photo by the Associated Press.


About Author


  1. Carp’d!! Re-post:

    One thing you have to add in is will Boyle want to stay on in a 4th line role? even if he is paid $2.5m+ ?
    He’s been quoted as saying he’d like more responsibility and AV won’t expand his current role too much, so i expect Boyle to sign elsewhere.
    Stralman will get a lot of money thrown his way which the Rangers won’t match ($5m?), and probably shouldn’t given we need to re-sign Staal and also have Klein, Diaz, McIlrath in the organisation who are righties and coming through the likes of Conor Allen, Brady Skjei and Calle Andersson.

  2. Given our lack of draft picks – i’m expecting to see a few trades this next 10 days or so. If i’m right we don’t pick till #59 and only have 4 picks in total.

    Maybe Slats will ship Boyle and Stralman’s negotiating rights for a 7th rounder or two? Maybe Dorsett will get moved, or one of the younger guys on the bubble like Fast.

    One things for sure, when your team finishes playing hockey in mid-June there’s not much waiting round for the draft and July 1st silly-season!!

  3. “On the 9th day, I let the horse run free ’cause the desert had become sea”

    I’ll say it again- great Ranger great teammate but not capable anymore. Won’t be easy to replace by any means

  4. Admiral Akbar on

    “The Stanley Cup finalist will change, and there’s no guarantee it will be back, or close to it, next spring.”

    — that’s what I find most depressing/sobering this summer.

  5. Admiral Akbar on

    Ignorant question here, but here goes:

    Is it possible to buy out Wilber and then re-sign him cheap?

  6. Stranger Nation on

    Pure genuis of Marty trade is being able to replace the value of two high salaries with a very reasonable one.
    Marty takes over for Nash as first line RW
    Marty takes over Richards ‘leadership’ role
    Let McD takes Richards PP point role
    SIGN a right handed shot for PP – Step is ONLY righty in top 9….you say Varbata, I say Vrbata

  7. Matty"ProudOfTheRun"Boy on

    Richards contract is outdated. You cant thank him enough for any role he had in 9 PO series over the last 3 years. Perhaps it’s no coincidence. Thank you, Brad. Good luck.

  8. It is unfortunate, but I agree that Boyle is likely a goner. He wants more minutes and doesn’t seem to want to play on the 4th line. What a shame, he was perfect there. Oh well, easier to replace him than someone like Stralman!

    But, Boyle brought so much and was a KEY part of the penalty killing unit…..

  9. Matty"ProudOfTheRun"Boy on

    The reason losing Boyle is a tough one for this team is ALL the things he has done for this team (I’ve talked about them over the last 2 years as one of his true supporters) coupled with his size. What does Sather do now? Another pygmie sized player for the 4th line?

    Sather has had little regard for size. As such, our average draft pick is 5’11” and 185. Kreider and McIlrath are aberrations.

    We saw what size does for a team this year. The loss of guys like Boyle, even Pouillot, is crushing if not replaced by equal value.

  10. Matty"ProudOfTheRun"Boy on

    Guys like Zucc’s, Hags, MSL, may play with huge heart. They may even check.

    If I’m playing against us, I’m thinking “what was that flea that just hit me”?

    If I’m playing against LA, Boston, I’m lying on the ground and sore the next day.

  11. Admiral – Richards can sign for any of the 29 other teams but not back with the Rangers until 2015/16 (not that he would, just saying).

    …and i agree, as derided as he has been at times, he has been a major contributor to our success and mentoring the younger guys in the locker room. He will find a suitor quite easily, probably on a team with a young roster

  12. so, just poking my head in with my campaign slogan for the summer

    Stastny free in 2014!

    not that I don’t like him as a player, but the years and term will have to be Richards esque and he isn’t THAT much younger

  13. The whole salary cap issue is so depressing. Just when you really start to get attached to these guys, they gel as a team and then you have a run like this…..they’re gone. Sucks!
    Resent the analysis out there about LA being so dominant. Stickshafts, goalposts, bad calls, non-calls; the Kings needed every one of those to win that series.
    Bettman is happy – The Southern Strategy moves forward.

  14. Stranger Nation on

    THE – Step – Marty
    Zucc – Bros – Kane
    Hags – Miller – Vrbata
    UFA – Moore – Dorsett

    Big Buff – McD
    Girardi – Belov
    Klein – Moore

    Nash/Staal for Kane/Big Buff
    UFA signings: Vrbata & Belov (Moops)
    RFA keeps: Zucc, THE, Bros

  15. Good morning, boneheads!

    Nice to see there are more people here who appreciate what Richards did for this team, and that his contract was necessary and was well designed, until Mr. Bettman decided to change the rules. Not only they played in 9 PO series over the last 3 years, they won 6. Exactly as many as Chicago, and the only team with more than that is LA. No coincidence- Richards was a big part of it. But, it’s all business now.

    I still believe both Stralman and Boyle are gone, sadly. In my opinion, they need to concentrate on resigning Poulliot. He was a big part of their most consistent unit all year long, has size, speed, and goes to the net. Scored a few very important goals. More often than not, his penalties are because he is playing an aggressive style. We don’t have enough players with that style, you live with some penalties.

  16. SN- between Kane and Byfugien it’s $10.4M cap hit, considering you’ll have to retain some of the Nash’s salary, that may go up to $13M. Evander Kane is a great player, but he scored 30 goals once, never scored even 20 in any other season, and he is yet to play in a single PO game.

  17. JD thats the one of the main reasons why teams need to constantly develop their young talent. GM’s can’t go out and spend $50-60m stocking up their top 2 scoring lines. Each team can afford a handful of star players, but then need to complement them with young talent and role players.

    The thing the Kings have done well is that Doughty is their only player on $7m or more. Carter, Richards, Brown and Voynov all come in under $6m. They will keep the band together for another year but then the next season have to give Kopitar, Williams, Toffoli, Martinez, Clifford and Muzzin new deals – of which the last 4 will be due hefty raises.

  18. Guys: please stop with the Byfuglien stuff? The guy is horrendously overpaid and overweight. He’s not a good fit and he can’t skate well enough, in his current state, to play on this fast paced team. Please.

  19. Jeff in South Dakota on

    I generally appreciated what Richards did this year for the team, but his contract has to go.

  20. i agree with ilb – we will lose Stralman and Boyle, so Slats & co. need to concentrate on re-signing our RFA’s to reasonable deals, extending Staal and bringing back DMoops, Pouliot and Diaz.

    (I did not think i’d be advocating re-signing Pullout back in November!)

  21. Jeff in South Dakota on

    Nash, on the other hand — something is wrong in his brain — he is often very off balance on his skates. I think he his still feeling the effects of his concussion even if no one will confirm. I think the fact that he rarely gets to the slot or right in front of the net speaks volumes as to his condition.

  22. Rob in Beantown on

    Far be it from me understand the psych of professional hockey players, but I don’t understand why Boyle wants “an increased role” or even what it means. Does that mean he wants to be a 2nd or 3rd liner somewhere? Why would he want to be a mediocre 3rd liner when he’s already of the best 4th liners in the league, and already plays such an important role as a 4th liner and penalty killer. If I were Sather I would be prepared to offer him a lot of money to be an excellent 4th liner. I wouldn’t want him to play up on the 3rd line. It’s just puzzling to me because surely Boyle knows what an important role he plays already.

  23. Stranger Nation on

    Ilb – read carefully…don’t be *emtional*

    Staal ($3.9) and Nash ($7.8) for Kane ($5.2M) and Big Buff ($5.2M)
    Yes, all 4 are imperfect players. We are trading significant injury risk for uncertain production, Buff signed for only 2 more years

    Last 3 seasons, Kane with 66 goals and Nash with 76 goals

    But don’t focus on goal scoring only because sometimes certain goal scorers don’t score goals when it counts….4 goals in 37 PO games that is

    Rick Nash = Ed Whitson

  24. You preserve what you can after a successful run. On the other hand, success means you will lose some players because they will be overpaid. That’s business. They need to retain the personnel that works in AV’s system, try to improve if they can. This team needs to add size, especially if they lose Boyle and do not feel McIlrath will be ready this year.

  25. Rob in Beantown on

    Unless “increased role” means a team leadership position. In that case, I wonder if Boyle could be enticed to stay with an alternate captain position. I doubt it though – can’t pay your bills with ‘C’s or ‘A’s.

  26. Aside from Buff not being nearly the Dman that Staal is, can you not just see the guy arriving here and getting swallowed up by the city while simultanously swallowing every bit of awesome food and drink that surrounds him?

    This guy does not need NYC chefs in his life.

  27. I’m probably crazy, but I’d consider signing Mike Richards if he gets bought out. He’s still only 29 and has been on two Cup winning teams. Could be a cheap option for 3rd line C and maybe you catch lightning in a bottle.

    That’s predicated on re-signing Brassard, Boyle, Moore, etc.

  28. Stranger: Byfuglien is so out of shape he was moved to FORWARD by the Jets. Yes, he’s back on Defense. But that doesn’t bode well. You can’t just bring him here and slap him on the top line and expect him to somehow be OK.

    Byfuglien was also LEFT OFF the Men’s Olympic team.

    Please stop. Please. I beg you. It makes me cry.

  29. With you on that, Gravy. Could potentially be a great fit if things break a certain way. Immeidately fills a leadership void too.

  30. If we lose Boyle then we should certainly consider Mr. Michael Richards.

    Best bonus would be that we wouldn’t have to change the name RICHARDS on the WBM.

  31. Rob in Beantown on

    Good point. Also, JT Miller is already wearing M. Richards’ number, so M. Richards can just take #19 and the transition of bonehead loathing would be seamless.

  32. From a Philly site re: Stralman

    “Stralman has plenty of offensive and puck-moving skills. He can quarterback a power play and has a heavy, accurate shot from the point. He has decent size, but tends to shy away from physical play, which hinders his overall effectiveness. However, he can be relied on for big minutes as evidenced by his contributions during the Rangers’ run to the Stanley Cup Final.”

    – he cannot QB a powerplay
    – he doesnt have an accurate or heavy shot (and rarely scores)
    – was our most physical D-man in PO’s
    – he’s 6’1 but only 180lbs

    If Philly sign him i will look forward to watching THE Kreider make mincemeat out of him every time!!

  33. No big buff please. Man can’t move. Yes helps pp with a bomb but he is a horror show defending.

    I got this feeling rangers will struggle next year miss playoffs only to respond in 2 years when more cap space becomes available to tinker with this core.

    2015-2016 rangers capt Ryan mcdonagh come get the Stanley cup

  34. Manny – um …. not when you look at the stats.

    Big Byfuglien had 56 points 20 goals.

    Not that I’m a fan of trading Staal, at all, you can’t say the Rangers couldn’t use Big Buff.

  35. Nash and Girardi have NMCs. I don’t think most players waive a NMC to leave a team that just finished as one the two finalists to go to a team that might as well still be in Atlanta.

  36. The actual Cap number is still unknown. We should have a better idea soon. From what I read, they’re still debating whether the value of Canadian dollar fell low enough to impact the Cap, whether to include the projected TV revenue that will kick in next year ( even though according to CBA they have include anything that projects to be over $20M), and whether to trigger the 5% growth factor escalator.

  37. For a team that plays with speed and skill the last thing we need a slow-footed, pot-bellied pylon. There’d be no prime rib sandwiches left at MSG for the fans each game!

  38. That post is awesome, UK. Guess Phlyers fans know about as much about other teams as Boneheads do.

  39. I wouldn’t be opposed to signing Mike Richards on a one year deal, maybe let him prove he can still be a remotely useful player. But I have a feeling some team will pay for his “veteran leadership” and “Cup winning experience”. Then of course whichever team signs him will have to eventually make room for Jeff Carter since Carter seems to be only happy when playing with Richards.

  40. London Broil on

    ilb, i get what youre saying about preserving what you can, but i disagree to an extent. Other teams use free agency to get better so it’s best for us to not remain status quo. With Richie gone & a need for a top line center & slim pickings available via free agency, I think we should seek a trade for a top center. We made the Conf Finals in 2012 & the trade for Nasher was a great one. Nash hasnt worked out to this point & he may never work out, but it was a great trade. Id give Boyle the same deal Prust got. 2.5 x 4. I like Boyle as a player, but if he refuses that, kick his ass out… he is a Bostoner after all. If we can retain Stralman in the 4 mil per yr range, I say do it. I like Pouliout b/c as you said he was a part of the most consistent line, but if someone’s gotta go, Id go with Pouliot over Boyle & Stralman.

  41. It’s nice that Boyle wants more minutes and responsibility, but that doesn’t mean he should get it. I want a supermodel wife and a Ferrari. Tough luck. If Boyle was scoring goals at the clip he did a few seasons ago, I would agree 100%, move him up, get him 15+ minutes a night, let him score 20+ goals per season. Unfortunately the Boyle we have seen for the past 2 years has stone hands in the regular season and struggles to hit the net no matter how close he is. In his five seasons with the Rangers, he has scored 4, 21, 11, 2 (shortened season), and 6 goals per season. You tell me which season was the anomaly, and whether he deserves more than a 4th line and penalty killing role. Granted, he’s a helluva 4th line guy; good on faceoffs, big, durable, plays better in the Playoffs, great character guy, excellent interview and seemingly loved teammate. But let’s not get carried away with what he is. This year we had Brass/MZA/Pouliot as our 3rd line. Anyone think Boyle poses more of an offensive threat than any of those guys?

  42. Hearing nhl schedule release Monday June 22nd prior to awards 2 days later.

    My bet rangers open in Montreal October 8th Wednesday.

  43. The awards is a horrific one hour of television but still find myself watching that mess

  44. Looking at NYR’s picks in the draft, they lose their 5th round pick to San Jose because of the Ryan Clowe trade. Since NYR failed to reach the ECF, they have to give up that pick.

    Two 2nd round picks & a 5th for Ryan fuggin Clowe. What a joke!

  45. I can’t help it, Eric. It’s so awkward I can’t turn it off. The forced laughter from the crowd, the presenters that don’t know how to pronounce names, like Martin Saint Lewis & Steve Whyzerman, among others.

  46. London Broil on

    The Clowe trade was plain ole stupidity. He was booted out the door by San Jose b/c there was no place for him & he was 1 or 2 more shots to the melon away from never neverland.

  47. Any Wolfpack players ready for next year.

    Miller or Lindberg get a shot at 3rd line Center?

    Boyler – 4th line wing go to….. Fast? Kristo?

    Stralman – Diaz, McIlrath? Skjei?

    McD or Staal for Captain?

    Or does Sather for the BIG Splash at Center?

  48. NYR are going to lose a conditional pick to San Jose for the Mashinter trade and another conditional pick to LA for the Carcillo trade.

    Doesn’t say if it’s this year or next.

    If it’s not this year then NYR have a pick in round 2, tree, faw, 6 & 7.

  49. Rob in Beantown on

    We have three picks in this year’s draft, and two of them are in rounds 6 and 7?


  50. Yergs Gabby is a UFA, and with his name on the Stanley Cup and 14 goals, he has to be the winner of the “Best rental for a Cup RUN” award. Right?

  51. I’m sure it’s been said in the comments somewhere but can’t we get Callahan back? Dump Richards and get Cally back.

  52. I’m going to have to work a lot harder to get over this series loss, because it really feels like *Hodor* is out of here…and soon.


  53. I can’t wrap my head around the UFA and draft day decisions yet.

    I’m still coming to grips with the sad reality that we could have won the Cup this year, against LA no less

  54. Good morning, Sally!


    lol, UK. Stralman’s way more than 180, absolutely does not shy away from physical play, has a decent shot. … and is a No. 4. He will be terribly missed, and I doubt Klein can fill his spot, but he’s a No. 4.

  55. Rob – are you saying you want the 1’st round pick back now? That we didn’t win the Cup this year?

  56. Tampa isn’t going to sign Cally for that price.

    They will take the picks. They may be the winner of that deal. Considering they weren’t going to win a playoff series without a starting goalie.

    Now they have 2 1’st rounders for the next 2 years, and a plethora of YOUNG NHL talent, that can score. Seriously, they are going to be a force to play against when healthy.

  57. But, if the Rangers got the three OT goals, than Matt Greene, former Sioux captain, wouldn’t have his name on the Cup.

  58. I would take Cally back, Dubi too for that matter. I hate losing homegrown heart and soul guys for “top” end talent that doesn’t play hard. Here’s our “first” line next year. Nash, BRich, St. Louis. That’s just our figure head line though, our real top line is second in The, Step, and Hags. Don’t you think Brich would’ve been bought out after last year if anything? I don’t see Sather buying him out after a run like that. He may even end up with a C on his sweater, but what do I know. I hope nothing.

  59. Manny – teams needs young guns that can score to win Champion ships, Look at LA.

    Toffoli – 22 years old, 2nd rounder 2010, 14 points in the playoffs.

    Pearson – 21 years old, 2012 Draft pick, played 25 games this year in the regular season 7 pts, played 24 playoff games had 12 pts.

    Yup we should trade the one guy that made $65K last year. That could help this team next year.

  60. Stranger Nation on

    _Byfuglien was also LEFT OFF the Men’s Olympic team_

    Is this the criteria to sign/trade for players? Well Nash made the team and played great Defense so maybe we should hold on to him for the next *four* years for some solid PK and reg season scoring for $$$7.8MM

    Need to trade risk for other risk. Staal is signed for only one more season, Buff for two. We have NO offensive Dman save for McD who cannot play every second of game and an inconsistent J Moops.
    We get a PP QB, a physical presence and a guy who won a cup. Heck, I would move him to forward.

    If 2 yrs of a 6.5″ 265 lbs PP QB is what it took to get Kane and you got rid of Nash, you wouldn’t do that??

  61. Many Sather would have to sign him before he trades him, right now he is a RFA.

    That said he could make the team right away in Winnipeg!!!

  62. Forget about Staal. He should be traded for assets. He is a shell of what he used to be. The concussion and the eye issues have had a huge impact on his ability. If I were making the decision, I trade Staal, resign Stralman for Staal money, resign J. Moore and give Connor Allen a real shot as the # 5 or 6 guy.

  63. Carp. I think the proof is in the pudding. I felt that Staal was horrible in the playoffs. he continually lost his man in coverage, his gaps were so large you could drive a truck thru them and on more than one occassion he was just standing there in front of the net watching while the opposition kept hammering at the puck. He also seems to have problems with pucks which are down areound his feet on the left side which tells me his vision is still an issue. Just my humble opinion.

  64. John, I don’t disagree that he had some struggles in spots, and he does fish for pucks around the net too much, but Staal was pretty much assigned to Malkin and Kopitar and kept both of them pretty quiet.

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