According to ESPN, Brad Richards has been bought out by the New York Rangers, after the team elected to use their last remaining cap-compliance buyout on the former Conn Smythe Trophy winner and Stanley Cup champion. The remaining six years of his contract and $6.6 million annual cap hit is off the books.
Brad Richards has been bought out by the New York Rangers, source says— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) June 20, 2014
The move was widely predicted by major sports media, and as I wrote a week ago, it needed to happen for several reasons:
- Cap-recapture penalties: If Brad Richards decided to retire before his contracted ended, per the newly ratified collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and NHLPA, the Rangers would suffer huge financial losses. Supposing that Richards retired in the 2018 season, from 2018 to 2020, the Rangers would be hit with a $5.66 million annual cap penalty, per CapGeek.com.
- To free up cap room for pending restricted free agents: The Rangers have several players restricted free agents this summer, and each will earn big pay raises. Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello, Derick Brassard and John Moore are among many due for significant payroll increases. With Richards bought out, some much-needed financial wiggle room is available to retain restricted free-agent talent.
- Another post-season disappointment for Richards: For the second year in a row, Richards simply ran out of gas and put up disappointing numbers for a player his age. At 34 years old with six years remaining on his bloated contract, this postseason run was the surest sign yet that Richards' career in New York was over.
Richards was just another veteran player past his prime who came to Broadway to wither away. Despite stepping up as a veteran leader and mentoring young players on the Rangers roster once the former captain, Ryan Callahan was traded at the deadline for Martin St. Louis, his contract was simply too large to tolerate anymore.
The Rangers will still owe Richards $8 million in signing bonuses to be paid out over the next three years, plus $12.6 million in salary per CapGeek.
Richards will earn $53 million of his original $60 million contract, per ESPN's Pierre LeBrun.