Blog Entry

Brad Richards settles on signing with Rangers

Posted on: July 2, 2011 11:15 am
Edited on: July 2, 2011 6:50 pm

The biggest free agent is heading to the biggest market.

The front-runners all along, the New York Rangers won the race to sign former Dallas Stars center Brad Richards. Darren Dreger of TSN reports the deal is for nine years and $60 million, an average hit of $6.67 million.

"Very happy to become a New York Ranger today!!!" Richards wrote on his Twitter account. "Playing at MSG will be amazing and looking forward to working with a great young team"

Richards spent the opening day of free agency entertaining team presentations in his agent's office in Mississauga, Ontario. There he hosted the Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs (sans Brian Burke), L.A. Kings, Tampa Bay Lightning and Calgary Flames. It was expected Richards would make his decision late Friday but instead elected to sleep on it before deciding on the Rangers.

"You can find a player like this as a free agent or find a player like this in the top five [of the draft] and it takes a long time to develop," general manager Glen Sather said. "We needed somebody like this to take us to the next step. I think it's a great opportunity for us. I know he left a lot of money on the table by accepting the offer."

And what about that concussion he suffered near the end of the season? Richards says it's nothing to worry about.

"I have been training for six weeks, way ahead of any other training schedule I have been on because I was healthy after the season," Richards said. "My body felt great, my head felt great, so I got at it pretty quick."

For months it had been assumed the Rangers would be the ultimate winner of the Richards sweepstakes. The Blueshirts needed a top-line center, had the money to spend and Richards had said he wanted to play in a big market where hockey matters. Seems to be a natural fit. But it didn't stay that easy.

The Leafs, Kings and Lightning were not surprise suitors at all. And if any other teams were to be in the mix, it was assumed it would the Sabres in Buffalo and maybe even the Flyers in Philly. Instead, the underdog came in the form of the Flames, who gave Richards a lot to think about.

Dreger reported Saturday morning that the Flames actually offered more money than the Rangers, giving an offer at the same length but for $65 million total. In the end, Richards took less money to head to New York and reunite with his former coach in Tampa, John Tortorella.

The Kings also came to the table with an aggressive offer, trying to give L.A. perhaps the best collection of centers in the NHL with Mike Richards and Anze Kopitar already on the roster. Tim Leiweke, the chief executive of Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns the Kings, was part of a group that included general manager Dean Lombardi and several others who went to Canada to meet with Richards. Not even video messages from Wayne Gretzky and Kobe Bryant won over Richards.

"We have a lot of respect for Brad and Pat Morris and the way they handled this," Leiweke said. "We understood his desire to play out East and did the best we could to overcome that. We wish him the best. Dean [Lombardi] and his team did a great job. We are focused on other options and are certain this team is going to be very good next year."

His contract isn't as high as I anticipated it might go. Considering some of the contracts that were flying around yesterday in the free-agent frenzy, it was reasonable to assume he would see a number around the $70 million-$75 million range. Instead, the Rangers get him at an average cap hit of $6.67 million -- still a lot, but a reasonable price for a player that had 77 points in 72 games last season. The Rangers could have done worse.

Now, the Rangers still have around $15 million under the salary cap ceiling, according to, which should be enough room to sign restricted free agents Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov and Brian Boyle.

Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images

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Since: Sep 12, 2006
Posted on: July 2, 2011 9:01 pm

Brad Richards settles on signing with Rangers

Typical dopey Rags fan. Already planning a Stanley Cup parade down Broadway in July(?!). At least wait until April and see if you even crack the top 4, or win the division. Jesus! Personally, I think the Flyers are the team to beat next year. I hate the Flyers too, but I like what they've done. As an Isles fans naturaly I'm jealous of the signing Lol. However, I'm not at all afraid of the Rags, neither are the Devil fans. Feel free though to laugh at the Islanders all you want while you still can. Our day is coming whether you like it or not... 

Since: Jul 2, 2011
Posted on: July 2, 2011 8:44 pm

Brad Richards settles on signing with Rangers

Great job burke.  More silver medalist Americans (absolutely has to be a record for Americans on the Leafs).   Richard probably knows how terrible the Leafs are, and wants no part.

Worst part is Leafs will miss the playoffs again, and only Wilson will lose his job.   

Since: Nov 13, 2008
Posted on: July 2, 2011 8:39 pm

Brad Richards settles on signing with Rangers

Can see the fear in your words. Devil or Icelander fan, which ever you are its going to be another long year for you made worse when Brad is skating around the Graden with Lord Stanley.

Since: Nov 13, 2008
Posted on: July 2, 2011 8:35 pm

Brad Richards settles on signing with Rangers

There there Devil fan, get comfy with 4th in the divioion and out of the playoffs. At least you will be better than the Icelanders for 1 more year.

Since: Jan 11, 2007
Posted on: July 2, 2011 8:24 pm

Brad Richards settles on signing with Rangers

Don't remember the exact details of the original Kovy contract, but the Richards deal isn't anything like it.  This deal extends until he's 39, an age at which he could easily still be playing  A lot of the others that drew the league's ire (Kovy, Pronger, etc) take the player into his mid-40s when less than 1% of all players are still active.

Since: Aug 17, 2006
Posted on: July 2, 2011 8:04 pm

Brad Richards settles on signing with Rangers

maybe i'm missing something, but didn't the NHL put a stop to these long term deals for players over 30.  could it be that the kovalchuk contract wasn't the problem at all, it was the team he signed it with that was the real problem?

Since: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: July 2, 2011 7:58 pm

Brad Richards settles on signing with Rangers

I am pretty sure the chances of getting a leg amputated on accident in Texas (0%) are far less than the chance he pays tons of taxes in NY (100%).  Also, to tear apart a state for poor education and then spell "YOU'RE" wrong and have 5 run on sentences in a row is not helping YOUR argument.

Since: Sep 1, 2006
Posted on: July 2, 2011 7:57 pm

Brad Richards settles on signing with Rangers

A nine-year deal is about four or five years too many for a center who's already 30 and has never had a 30-goal season. Don't get me wrong, Richards is a very good player, but I don't see him as elite, and a lot of things can happen during the life of a nine-year contract. 

Since: Jun 25, 2007
Posted on: July 2, 2011 7:03 pm

Brad Richards settles on signing with Rangers

yeah ,too bad  if you get the wrong surgery performed  on you in Texas, you have no recourse to sue because what's the big deal if you go in for a kidney transplant and you get your left leg amputated, nobody's pefect and why should a Dr or his  insurance have to pay you for their mistakes, just chalk it up as a learning mistake, and be glad you don't have to pay personal income taxes,I think that is  a fair trade off .what a great state texas is!Some of the worst public   schools in the country,public hospitals at the lower tier of health care unless your rich, then you can have anything you want,yeah what a great place to live!

Since: Jul 27, 2009
Posted on: July 2, 2011 6:33 pm

Brad Richards settles on signing with Rangers

happy he's not coming back to tampa bay they have a lot of players to sign and he would take a huge chunk

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