While there’s no denying the notion that Brad Richards was the biggest free agent fish this summer, catching him required a considerable risk. The New York Rangers decided to do what the Rangers tend to do: they threw caution to the wind with a big, risky deal for the 31-year-old center.
It’s understandable that Rangers fans enjoyed visions of Richards setting up Marian Gaborik dancing in their heads, but there’s quite a way to go before that on-paper dream can become a reality. Gaborik tends to be the guy who deals with a wonky groin, but the team might have a slight cause for concern after Richards missed another day’s worth of practice with that nagging injury.
Katie Strang reports that the injury is supposed to be a minor one, but as she mentioned, the Rangers are already dealing with issues to a key cog in top defenseman Marc Staal. Staal’s problems (post-concussion syndrome) are actually the thing that worried me the most about Richards going into this season, beyond concerns about his age and the fact that he’ll probably not have another contract to play for in his strong career.
Ultimately, the groin injury itself might not be a reason to worry, but it underscores the risky nature of giving any player such a lengthy deal – let alone a guy who’s already 31. On the bright side, the Rangers could buy Richards out if his health goes on a more serious decline since it isn’t a 35+ deal. It could become a new tradition after they did the same thing with another substantial veteran center investment in Chris Drury.