The 32-year-old center is in the second season of a nine-year, $60 million deal, of which all but $3 million is paid out in the first six years. It also comes with a full no-movement clause.
With next season’s salary cap dropping to $64.3 million, Brooks observed the Rangers would have roughly $10 million to re-sign restricted free agents Ryan McDonagh, Carl Hagelin and Derek Stepan, leaving little room for other roster moves.
Brooks also noted if Richards were to retire before his front-loaded contract expires, the Rangers would face expensive salary cap recapture penalties.
Richards’ numbers since joining the Rangers in 2011 (66 points in 82 games last season, 11 points in 17 games this year) are not those expected of a first-line center with a cap hit of $6.7 million per season.
Considering the centers potentially available this summer via free agency (Ryan Getzlaf, Stephen Weiss, Mike Ribeiro) or trade (Ryan O’Reilly), it might be worthwhile to buy out Richards and put the savings toward a more affordable option.
For more on this story visit: Lyle Richardson, The Hockey News