It hasn’t even been two years since the New York Rangers signed Brad Richards to a nine-year, $60 million contract, but the buyout speculation officially begins today as the 33-year-old has been made a healthy scratch for his team’s most important game of the season.
If the Rangers do decide to cut ties with the former Conn Smythe Trophy winner this summer, it will cost them $24 million over 14 years, per CapGeek.
Here are three reasons they might bite the bullet:
1. They could use the cap space
As part of the new CBA, each team gets two compliance buyouts to help adjust to next year’s cap, which is falling from $70.2 million to $64.3 million. The Rangers already have $51.5 million committed to next season, and that’s just for 18 players. Restricted free agents in line for significant raises include Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh. Carl Hagelin and Mats Zuccarello are also RFAs.
2. They’ve got Derick Brassard now
Brassard, 25, came over from Columbus as part of the Marian Gaborik trade. With 10 points in 10 playoff games, he leads the Rangers in postseason scoring. Richards is a top-six center, but right now he’s not playing better than Brassard or Stepan, two young centers with bright futures.
3. Best days behind him
If Richards is a healthy scratch at 33, where will he be in two years? Four? Compliance buyouts can only be used this summer and next. With a cap hit of $6.67 million, Richards’ heavily front-loaded contract doesn’t expire until after the 2019-20 season. And if they keep him and he retires early, the Rangers would pay a significant cap benefit recapture penalty (another element of the new CBA).
‘John leaves a lasting mark’: NHL announces Collins’ departure as COO
One of the driving forces behind the NHL’s growth over the last decade is moving on.
John Collins, who’s served as the league’s chief operating officer for the last seven years, will be leaving his post to embark on a new business opportunity.
More, from the League:
Collins, who joined the NHL in November 2006, had been COO since August 2008.
“John leaves a lasting mark,” said Commissioner Bettman. “His energy, creativity and skill at building strategic partnerships helped drive significant revenue growth for our League. We are grateful for his many contributions and wish him the best in his new endeavors.”
Said Collins, “I’m grateful to Commissioner Bettman for his leadership and friendship over the past nine years. He had a vision for extending the reach of the NHL and supported us completely as we set out to make the game as big as it deserves to be.
“The NHL’s future is filled with promise and potential and I will admire and cheer the League’s successes to come on the global stage.”
Collins, 53, was regarded as one of main presences behind a number of the NHL’s most successful initiatives, including the Winter Classic and Stadium Series, the HBO 24/7 collaboration, the relaunched World Cup of Hockey, Canadian and American television deals and partnerships with companies like SAP, Adidas, Major League Baseball Advanced Media and GoPro.
During Collins’ tenure, the NHL was twice named “Sports League of the Year” by the SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily — once in 2011, and again in 2014.
Columbus will have some reinforcements up front when it takes on the Devils tomorrow in New Jersey.
Brandon Dubinsky, who’s missed the last six games with an elbow injury, and Alexander Wennberg — who’s also missed the last six games, but with a foot ailment — have both been activated from injured reserve, and should be available for selection on Wednesday.
The Winter Classic Alumni Game is back this year, scheduled for New Year’s Eve at Gillette Stadium between former members of the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins.
Today, the NHL announced the rosters and coaching staffs.
Famous ex-Habs that will take to the outdoor ice include Larry Robinson, Guy Carbonneau, and Mats Naslund. Behind the bench will be Yvan Cournoyer, Jacques Demers and Guy Lafleur, among others.
The home side will counter with Bruins legends Ray Bourque, Cam Neely, and “Nifty” Rick Middleton, while Don Cherry, Mike Milbury, and Derek Sanderson will be among the coaches. (Quite a trio of personalities right there.)