The Washington Post

Brad Richards can still provide free agent value after Rangers buy out contract

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The New York Rangers have decided to part ways with center Brad Richards.

Richards resurrected his career this season, scoring 20 goals and 51 points during the regular season after a 34-point campaign last year. He chipped in another 12 points during the this season’s run to the Stanley Cup finals.

But this was more about production.

According to Capgeek, prior to the Richards buyout the Rangers had $54 million in salary cap space committed to just 13 players, with a number of key restricted free agents due a raise (Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello, Derick Brassard and John Moore) plus some veterans in line for raises as unrestricted free agents (defenseman Anton Stralman and forward Brian Boyle).

Richards will receive most of the $60 million, nine-year deal he signed in the summer of 2011.

As per the buyout rules, Richards will get two-thirds of the $19 million remaining in salary (paid out over the next 12 years) on his deal plus the full $8 million still owed in signing bonuses that are due over the next three summers. Once everything is paid out, Richards will have been paid about $51 million. (He made just over $2 million in salary last season during the lockout year out of his $4 million salary.)

Despite the buyout and diminished role with New York, teams shouldn’t shy away from the 34-year-old center in the upcoming free agent frenzy.

For one, he did a good job of driving play this season. Ignoring special teams and lead-protecting situations, the Rangers saw 55.1 percent of unblocked shot attempts in their favor with Richards on the ice. His line-mates saw just 51.9 percent without him. New York also enjoyed  52.3 percent of all even-strength shot attempts (shots on net, missed and blocked) when Richards was matched up against the opposition’s top line.

Richards is also not afraid to shoot the puck. His 3.1 shots per game in 2013-14 was the most since his 28-goal season in Dallas during 2010-11.

For a team looking for a scoring center at a discounted price who can drive puck possession plus skate with the top power-play unit (3 minutes 40 seconds per game last season with New York), Richards is worth a look.

Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.
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