Broadway Brad Richards = Buyout Buyout Brad Richards?

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Brad Richards was benched for most of the third period in the Rangers 4-3 SO loss against the Isles Valentine’s Day. When a team’s number one, extremely well compensated, center is stapled to the bench during crucial stretches of a game that team has a serious problem.

Richards’ pine-ing by his beloved coach was completely justified. The center was awful in the loss to the Islanders and has been, for the most part, terrible this season.

He did have some huge moments for the Rangers last season. B-Rich’s goals against the Flyers in the Winter Classic and Washington in the playoffs will go down in New York Rangers lore among the team’s most memorable goals. However, his play after 115 games has been average at best. When matched up against up against his contract, his play has been terrible. This year it has been worse. Richards, has been prone to giveaways, hasn’t shown the brilliant passing he is known for, and has been painfully slow. The center from Prince Edward Island looks lost on the ice.

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Richards, the free agency prize of the Summer 2011 frenzy was signed to invigorate the NYR power play and energize Marian Gaborik. Gabby is still scoring but has played on and off with B-Rich and after 115 games has never really meshed with Richards. More alarmingly, the Rangers power play that Richards was supposed to transform is downright awful and getting worse.

Richards, by all accounts seems like a great guy. He does wonderful charity work like this and this and he seems genuinely well liked by his teammates. Plus he looks terrific naked and he clearly loves New York.

Broadway Brad in the front row.

Broadway Brad in the front row.

Over his career, Brad Richards has been a point producer, power play specialist and winner. He was selected for the extremely competitive Team Canada for both the 2004 World Cup and 2006 Olympics. In the mid 2000′s B-Rich was considered one of the top centers in the game. But that was a long time ago and he is not in that conversation anymore. Plus his Conn Smythe Trophy is almost 9 years old now.

2004 Conn Smythe Trophy Winner - Brad Richards

2004 Conn Smythe Trophy Winner – Brad Richards

With a monster contract paying him 6.7 million for six more years after this one. He is slowly regressing from number one center to Albatorss. Brad Richards will be 33 years old in May. With a few notable exceptions, Jaromir Jagr and Teemu Selanne, players don’t tend to maintain or improve their offensive production in their mid to late 30′s.

Brad Richards New York Ranger Statistics

2012 Regular Season
82 GP 25-41-66
2012 Playoffs
20 GP 6-9-15
2013 Regular Season
13 GP 2-8-10

New York Rangers Power Play Statistics

2012 Regular Season
82 GP 44-280 15.7%
2012 Playoffs
20 GP 13-73 17.8%
2013 Regular Season
13 GP 5-48 10.4%

If Richards is with the club beyond this season and for the next 6 years with these clearly downward trending numbers, he will enter that ugly Scott Gomez / Chris Drury territory. As well liked as he is both on and off the ice, the Rangers can’t have their hands and salray cap tied by a number one center playing with that type of production eating that much cap space like that for the next six years.

The Rangers clearly need Richards game to turn around by Spring for them to be successful. If it doesn’t and if this is more than just a funk and a horrific post lock out start, Slats should make the right call and Richards should be bought out after the season.

Is this just a funk or is this the beginning of the downward spiral? Are those slacks corduroy?

Is this just a funk or is this the beginning of the downward spiral? Are those slacks corduroy?

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