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Brad Richards probably wants to forget last season. After scoring 11 goals in the regular season, Richards looked absolutely lost in the postseason and was eventually benched for the final two games.
It was so bad that it looked like the Rangers were going to buy out his expensive contract. They didn't, and now he has a second chance.
If Richards has a great year, all will be forgiven. After all, he was signed to be the team's first-line center. That won't happen this year—not with Derek Stepan in the fold.
Richards anchoring the second line would move Derick Brassard to the third line, giving the Rangers awesome depth down the middle.
It's certainly possible that a fresh start with Alain Vigneault will help Richards. Richards was not suited to play a tight defensive game, like the one favored by John Tortorella. Instead, the wide-open offensive game favored by Vigneault should allow Richards to thrive.
Of course, if Richards doesn't play well, then he most likely will be bought out. This, in reality, is the most important season of his career.
He needs to have a solid camp and start the season strong. The contract makes things complicated. There's really no room for error.
I think that last season was probably an anomaly. Will Richards score 91 points like he did in 2009-10? Highly unlikely. But will he reach 50? That's more doable.
There's no easy way around it. Richards needs to improve from last season. If not, he'll find himself looking for a new home.