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: Aug 27, 2006
Posted on: July 2, 2011 1:34 pm

Brad Richards @ Bchen03

Because this site hasn't figured out how to let posters know who people are REPLYING TO (which is Amazing), I put your name on there.  Don't get offended.  I just won a bet with a friend for a 30 pack.  I said before 2pm EST some Ranger$ fan will bring up how many Fans the Rangers have.  So Happy 4th of July and thank you for the 30pack.  Do you still wear your 1994 Cup champs hat?

Since: Dec 27, 2006
Posted on: July 2, 2011 1:20 pm

Brad Richards settles on signing with Rangers

HaHa, a NJ swamp troll hating this move, the only time that NJ sludge park gets filled is when the Rangers show up. Just heard Lou has agreed to let Lemaire coach the team from an IPad live-feed installed behind the bench!

Since: Sep 21, 2006
Posted on: July 2, 2011 1:09 pm

Brad Richards settles on signing with Rangers

Richards is a nice hockey player, but let's hold off on ordering those rings just yet.Iknow Ranger Fan thinks this will put them over the top but over the top of who? The eighth seed in the east. Little Shout out to Broad street sissies fan. Bob Clarke is a god, keep on believin". As a Pens fan I hope they never fire that idiot. Of course he can contend for a top spot on that Girioux, Jagr line. If he can beat out Talbot. There's a reason why they haven't won a cup since Lincoln was president, Bob Clarke! Hope they got some "bullies" in the minors cause that was by far the softest team I saw last year. When u get pushed around by Buffalo you got real problems.

Since: Jan 3, 2011
Posted on: July 2, 2011 1:04 pm

Brad Richards settles on signing with Rangers

HAHAHA nujer_zfan, that's funny.  At least Richards is going somewhere where he can languish in relative obscurity while he's cashing his checks.  I agree this is a surprisingly low $ contract for his production and age.  Absolutely crazy and nonsensical FA market his year - who believes Wisniewski is worth just about $1m less than Richards?  I expect with a long-term front loaded contract, Richards now will be just as demotivated as the rest of the budding "star" FAs the Rangers have picked up over the years.

Since: Feb 9, 2009
Posted on: July 2, 2011 12:50 pm

Brad Richards settles on signing with Rangers

Good for the Rangers, but the Sabres never were serious about Richards. Sabres cancelled their visit with Richards and went after Leino. Buffalo got the 3 new faces they targeted along with keeping who they wanted. The Leafs now can go after "Tin Man ", NO HEART, Connely. As for Richards taking less money to go to NY, he will make more off Broadway that he would with the Frames.

Since: Aug 27, 2006
Posted on: July 2, 2011 12:49 pm

Brad Richards ---@ Kirlbocks

My point is exactly what I typed.  You live in Red Bank?   Is the town going crazy about this signing?  If you took the ferry to the city and asked 500 people what they thought of the Brad Richards Signing, 20 would punch you, 100 wouldn't understand your language, and maybe 10 would know that he is a Hockey Player.  5 Might know that the Ranger$ signed him.  That's my point.  I love hockey too.  My favorite sport.  If Montreal Signed him they would name a street after him.  Enjoy this fella'.  Same Cap hit as our man Kovy.  Wow.

Since: Apr 26, 2007
Posted on: July 2, 2011 12:43 pm

Brad Richards settles on signing with Rangers

While I'm happy that Slats landed his fish and that Dolan is a few dollars poorer, I hope that Richards enjoys a better fate than Chris Drury. Lately it seems like Madison Square Garden has been the graveyard for free agent centers.

Maybe we just can't shake our Mark Messier addiction and get behind a new guy, but the list of stars (no pun intended) turning into splinter collectors has been long and illustrious.

i hope he can be surrounded with wingers who can play the game at his level. If I'm going to be asked to pay 40% more for my tickets this year, we had better get past the first round of the playoffs.

Since: Mar 22, 2008
Posted on: July 2, 2011 12:31 pm

Brad Richards settles on signing with Rangers

Hey Nujer---what's your point? As a huge hockey fan I don't care if the NHL is a popular mainstream sport like the NFL the NBA or MLB. Why should I care? In fact, the less mainstream it is, trhe better the chance that it remain pure. As long as there are enough enlightened fans to continue to support the league's operation, we get to continue to enjoy the world's greatest sport. I have always said (only partially faceciously) that I'd like all of the less popular franchises (like the NJD and the NYI) with undeveloped fan bases, to fail. I wouldn't mind going back to an original 6 or a 12 team format as long as 6 of those teams were Canadian. That would be awesome. Who cares if the national media gives a crap? The NHL is best left to the rabid enlightened.

Since: Aug 27, 2006
Posted on: July 2, 2011 12:28 pm

Brad Richards settles ---Mrshak

They always get their guy.  And he ends up sucking.  Like Holik.  And Drury.  And Gaborik. And Gomez.

Since: Mar 22, 2008
Posted on: July 2, 2011 12:21 pm

Brad Richards settles on signing with Rangers

Hey SDG, are you aware of the difference between a Restricted free agent and an Unrestricted free agent? If anyone signs Stamkos away from TB are you aware of the dollars and picks that would have to be involved? Now that TB is out of the running for Richards, they can set their sights on tying up Stamkos long-term. Clearly, with his talent and youth, he is far more desireable a player than Richards but because of his Restricted status, he cannot be compared with Brad Richards. Yet you did. If you knew what you were talking about, you wouldn't have wasted your time with your post.

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