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Since the Scott Gomez experiment failed for the Rangers, GM Glen Sather has been on a quest to acquire a bona fide first line center to play with overpaid but sublimely talented winger Marian Gaborik.
He finally succeeded this summer, by signing Brad Richards to a nine-year deal that carries a cap hit of $6.67 million a season.
While it's a long deal for a 31-year-old center, Richards was easily the best player on the market this year, and this move addresses the Rangers' biggest need.
Richards is a perfect fit in New York, as he had a good relationship with head coach John Tortorella when the two won a Stanley Cup together in Tampa Bay in 2004—not to mention the fact that Richards won the Conn Smythe under 'Torts that spring.
Most superstar forwards in the league make more than $6 million a season. Richards has the 21st highest cap hit among all NHL forwards and many don't produce the same offensive numbers that he does.
While his actual salary for this season will be a whopping $12 million, the Rangers could be a Cup contender if Richards can duplicate his 91-point effort from a season ago.
After a solid 2010-11 season that saw the Prince Edward Island native notch 77 points in 72 games, I believe he earned this contract.
He could have made even more by going somewhere else, such as Toronto, but playing for a coach he's had chemistry with in the past meant more to him.
Verdict: Fair. He could have signed a slightly richer deal somewhere else, but anything more than $7 million would be overpaying