According to the New York Post’s Larry Brook, sources have indicated that impending free-agent center Brad Richards is seeking a long-term deal worth $7 million per season for the rights to have his services on the top scoring-line and powerplay.
“The Rangers have heard through the grapevine that Brad Richards will be seeking a long-term contract worth a minimum of $7 million per when the free-agent market opens on July 1, and they’ve heard it more than once and they’ve heard it from more than one source.
Not the best news for Glen Sather, the Rangers or Rangers fans. The hope all along was the Richards would be the guy- their guy-who would come to New York and be the savior down
the middle and be the powerplay quarterback that has arguably been missing since Brian Leetch controlled the Ranger blueline.
Brooks brings up other suggestions for the Rangers, including trades involving Stephen Weiss of the Florida Panthers, Jason Spezza of the Ottawa Senators and Patrick Sharp of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Weiss just won’t be able to fill the void the Rangers have. Spezza and Sharp, though, could. Spezza is just 28 years old, but has a no-trade clause that won’t be lifted unless the offer blows Senators GM Bryan Murray away, and rightfully so. Spezza is entering the prime of his career, and won’t be given up for second-tier prospects and a couple draft-picks.
Sharp has one year left on his contract with the Blackhawks before becoming a free-agent after this season. He makes $3.9 million this season and will surely be looking for a raise come July 2012. If the Rangers make a pitch for him and the Blackhawks accept, it would be contingent on signing an extension. Risky business.
Of course this is only a hiccup in the push to sign Richards, who just turned 31 years old. But if No. 91 is asking for seven years at $7 million, it’s wise to walk away. Of course he isn’t the same caliber player as Richards, but fans are groaning about paying a soon-to-be 35-year-old Chris Drury $7 million this season (and the past three seasons for that matter).
The ideal contract would be about five years at around $6 million per. Not a huge difference in cash, but the two years is a big deal. Richards has a concussion history now, and cutting ties with him at 36 instead of 38 is a big difference.
Sather has found ways the past several seasons to create cap-space a when it was least expected, and it should be no surprise if he is able to pull something off this month. Buyouts of Drury and Woltek Wolski have been rumored to create some space, but even that may not be enough with new contracts coming to Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan and Artem Anisimov.
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