Chris Szagola/Associated Press
Another inevitability was Brad Richards being bought out by the Rangers this summer. Despite bouncing back after a poor playoff campaign in 2012-13, Richards arrived in camp hungry to prove he still had it.
After scoring 51 points during the regular season, Richards played well in the Rangers first-round matchup with the Philadelphia Flyers but failed to carry the momentum into the later rounds of the tournament.
By no means did he lose it for the Rangers, but it was clear he ran out of gas. This fact made Glen Sather’s decision a whole lot easier.
If Sather wanted to sign all his restricted free agents, Richards would have to be bought out. Not only did he need the cap space immediately, but for fear of cap-recapture penalties in the years ahead, Richards was as good as gone.
After Sather exercised his compliance buyout option on Richards, the centerman was set to become a free agent. The Chicago Blackhawks jumped at the opportunity to plug their second-line center hole with an experienced veteran.
What Chicago gains and New York loses is a consummate professional with exceptional leadership abilities. Several younger players stressed the importance of Richards in their own personal development, and that will be missed.
But Chicago has had fair warning. Once they reach the latter stages of the playoffs—which they most certainly will expect to do—Richards cannot be counted on to be the player he once was.