While Brad Richards barricaded himself in his Toronto office surrounded by agents, fielding contract offers and visitations from team officials around the league, Glen Sather and the New York Rangers just made a phone call. The Rangers knew that they were going to sign 2011’s top free agent, because of his longing to team up with coach John Tortorella again, who he won a Stanley Cup with in Tampa Bay, and to come to Broadway. It is obvious that Richards had made up his mind all along, and just wanted to be courteous to the other courting teams, because according to multiple sources, he actually took less money to play in New York (the Calgary Flames offered $65 million over the same number of years). The Rangers may have given him a massive contract in terms of years, with nine, but the annual cap hit will be only $6.67 million, bringing the grand total up to a $60 million deal. When you look at what other free agents have gotten, and what the Rangers have gotten for their buck in year’s past, this is an absolute steal.
I am still weary of signing a big name free agent, and I have said many times that I did not want Richards in New York, but when looking at what he can produce, and for the price he came at, it is really hard to not like this deal. The Rangers did not break the bank, and have done what other teams around the league have done, which is lengthen the amount of years, and front-load the salary at the beginning. According to sources, though unconfirmed, he is going to receive $50 million in the first five years, and $10 million over the last four. This is a smart structure, in case he decides to retire.
It seems the Rangers made Richards one offer, and waited for him to accept it—it did not matter what other teams were throwing at him, he was going to sign in New York. This is a feel-good story at a time in the year when we have nothing but confusion and anger over long-term deals. It is nice to know that there are still some players left that will turn down more money to go to a place they really want to play The Rangers needed a top-tier center, and they got one with Brad Richards.