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The imminent buyout of Brad Richards
The 34-year-old has been in decline the past two seasons, posting the lowest points per game totals of his career over that time. He has six years with a $6.67 million cap hit remaining on a nine-year, $60 million contract and this offseason is the final one in which teams can use amnesty buyouts to clear a contract off the books without leaving a cap hit behind. Should Richards retire before the end of his deal, the Rangers would be hit with a cap penalty. It all adds up to Richards no longer wearing a Rangers uniform next season after three years in New York.
Can the Rangers keep Anton Stralman?
The Rangers have several key unrestricted free agents this offseason, including Brian Boyle, Dominic Moore and Benoit Pouliot. But the best of the bunch is Anton Stralman, who has emerged over the past two seasons as one of the more unappreciated and effective defenseman in the league.
The Rangers hitched their wagon to Dan Girardi during the season, signing him to a six-year, $33 million deal. It's not unrealistic to say Stralman could receive that from another team this summer, making it almost impossible for the Rangers to match.
Raises for restricted free agents
The Rangers have about $17 million in cap space for next season, although that would move close to $24 million should they buy out Richards. They will need that leeway to sign their talented restricted free agents who are due raises—Derick Brassard, Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider and John Moore. The Rangers are notoriously stingy when it comes to RFA contracts, and they may need to be with these players in order to sign a free-agent center to replace Richards and retain Stralman.