Today in his weekly Slap Shots column, Larry Brooks of the New York Post examines Brad Richards' slow start to the season and weighs the pros and cons of using a amnesty buyout on the Blueshirts alternate captain.
Obviously, there's every chance it's just a slump and not necessarily the decline of Richards' skills. Brooks acknowledges this by calling his article "premature speculation" (nice one, Larry). However, with the team needing to sign five key free agents this summer and virtually the entire team the following summer, New York may not have the ability to be patient with Richards.
The Rangers, as currently constituted, will have approximately $10 million of space to fill five roster spots next season. That includes three positions reserved for restricted free agents Ryan McDonagh, Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin. That leaves the club with limited maneuverability regarding moves not only over the summer, but this season as well if they include adding players with contracts that run into next year.
This makes it much more likely than not that the Rangers would execute their final amnesty buyout this summer rather than next, when the cap cannot go down and conceivably will go up.
Brooks also suggest Marian Gaborik could be a candidate, but using a buyout on one of your best offensive players still in his prime and signed for just one more season would be a foolish thing to do.
– Kevin suggested it. Hockey Rodent has discussed it recently. Now, Larry Brooks is writing about it. You can say all you want how ludicrous an idea it is, but it's gaining steam as a real option.
– Realize the team has to sign its key players, the cap is going down next year and we're possibly witnessing the decline of a player in front of our eyes who is signed for the next SEVEN years at $6.67 million. It's not such a crazy idea.
– I'm still willing to give Richards the benefit of the doubt he can turn things around, but I'm not holding my breath on it. And using the flu in training camp as an excuse for his struggles is officially done.
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