Brad Richards has 35 points in 49 games, and he is currently the New York Rangers’ top scorer with a 0.71 points-per-game average. It seems that Richards has bounced back after a disappointing 2012-13 campaign, but after further review, he hasn’t really made an impactful mark for the Rangers this season.
At first glance, 35 points and a 0.71 points-per-game average looks great for a player of Richards’ caliber, but it really isn’t. Regular stats tell one story, but an in-depth breakdown of the same numbers renders another narrative worth discussing.
It will be explained in text form below, but here is a chart for the visual learners reading this column.
After crunching the numbers, it is astonishing to see how deceptive his numbers are. It isn’t a knock on Richards’ production per say, but rather it's a knock on his consistency and ability to help carry the team offensively.
Obviously there will be at least one person reading this who says, "Why do you care how he has put up points? He is putting up points and leading the team in scoring."
It would be an understandable comment but take this into consideration. Richards makes $6.6 million a season. He was signed to be an impact player—not a player who puts up points in spurts and then ghosts for a multitude of games.
After taking a deeper look at Brad's numbers, it became clear that he is currently playing on borrowed time.
This season Richards has recorded points in 27 games, and he has been pointless in the other 22 contests. This includes 19 games in which Richards has registered a lone point and eight games in which the former Tampa Bay and Dallas center splurged by tallying two points.
Richards has been known as a playmaker throughout his career, but this season he has not been a consistent setup man. To date, Richards has recorded 45 assists or more in six seasons, but he hasn't reached that mark since recording 49 assists during his last season with the Dallas Stars.
This year Richards has failed to register a primary or secondary assist in 29 games, and for a playmaker, it is very bad to have not recorded an assist in 59.18 percent of your team’s games.
Even worse than that, Richards isn’t even supplementing his lack of assists with goals, because he has only scored a goal in 11 of the team’s games. If you were to convert that to a percentage, it factors out to Richards failing to score in 77.55 percent of the Rangers’ games.
That is a problem for a player who is your leading scorer, especially for a team that has had problems scoring in the playoffs over the past few years.
Via Greg Wyshynski, here are the Blueshirts’ goals-per-game averages from the past few playoffs with Henrik Lundqvist in goal.
It is safe to assume that after looking at those numbers, you are probably a little more nervous about the Rangers potentially heading to the playoffs with Richards as the top dog.
In case you are starting to sweat, here is some good news. Mats Zuccarello is second in scoring; trailing Richards by a point and only a few points behind him is Chris Kreider with 27 points. Behind Kreider is Rick Nash who has a 0.63 points-per-game average with 20 points in 32 games after missing 17 games with a concussion.
In theory the Blueshirts have at least three other players who have been stepping up their game offensively, but the fact remains that the team needs more offensive weapons. While Richards is seemingly having a nice rebound year under Alain Vigneault, in all reality it is a sham and an illusion.
Richards is scoring in bunches, and the rest of the time he is not contributing to the best of his abilities.
This sample size is illustrating that the choice is clear for general manager Glen Sather this summer. He should use the Rangers’ last get-out-of-jail-free card, aka the compliance buyout, and hope that Paul Stastny doesn’t re-sign with the Colorado Avalanche.
As hard as it is to say this, Richards is playing on borrowed time. It pains this writer to type it, because it has been a pleasure to cheer for the Prince Edward Isle native throughout his career.
It was even more pleasurable once he donned the Broadway Blueshirt, but he simply isn’t the player he was with the Tampa Bay Lightning or Dallas Stars.
Time catches up with everyone eventually, and unfortunately it has hit Richards like a brick wall. Hopefully he can finish the season strong and propel the Blueshirts to great things, but historically and statistically the odds are not in Brad’s favor.
The 1998 third-rounder could end up proving people wrong again, and it will be interesting to see how his saga unfolds in New York.
Stats via NHL.com and The Hockey News.