A few weeks ago, an article was published on this website outlining all the reasons why the New York Rangers’ prized free agent acquisition this past offseason, Brad Richards, will succeed on Broadway. All of the points that were made most certainly have merit, and one could argue that through 17 games, Richards has made a largely positive impact despite playing at less than a point-per-game pace.
With the team sitting six games over the .500 mark, Richards has proven to be an excellent leader, mentor, distributor and teammate.
As any sports fan knows, however, free agency can be a risky endeavor. More often than not, free agent acquisitions fail to pan out mainly due to overpayment, old age or simple failure to produce consistently in the face of increased expectation. Contracts are often payment for past performance, with teams drawn into what a player has done throughout his career and not necessarily what he will do going forward.
After signing a nine-year, $60 million contract this past summer, Richards became the highest player in the NHL. While no Rangers fan realistically anticipates production at a level equivalent to the top goal scorers in the league, I think that most would expect a point-per-game player and, more importantly, a leader on a winning team.
With that said, I wanted to examine some of the factors that might prevent Richards from sustaining success in New York over the course of the next nine seasons. Will Richards be the next Jaromir Jagr for this team, or will he join the likes of Chris Drury and Scott Gomez in a long line of free agents that could not cut it in New York?
Let’s take a look at the five reasons why Brad Richards may not live up to his contract.