Rangers Made Richards Decision Clear...Halak, Tortorella, and More
Most people around the NHL will be shocked to see 33 year-old Brad Richards return to New York next season.
Richards days as a Ranger are likely done and you can expect him to be bought out this summer. Obviously the team will look to trade him first but I have a better chance of landing an NHL deal than another team taking on his contract. New York wants to rid themselves of his $6.6 million hit and even if a team were to accept half of his salary it still wouldn’t do the Rangers any good.
The Rangers will be on the hook for $24 of the $36 million still owed on his current deal. They’ll be paying him off for the next 14 years none of which will be counted towards the salary cap.
The Rangers made the decision to cut ties with Richards once they chose to put him in the pressbox in the playoffs. You don’t replace a healthy Brad Richards with Kris Newbury unless that decision is already made.
One conspiracy out there is the Rangers were actually protecting him by making him a healthy scratch. You can’t buyout an injured player and the Rangers may not have wanted to risk him getting hurt.
At any rate with Derek Stepan and Derick Brassard as your one, two punch up the middle, it’s clear the role Richards once had is no longer his.
This doesn’t mean he can’t be a top two center elsewhere in the NHL. He’s no longer the same player he once was and has probably lost a step or two but he still put up a respectable 33 points this season.
I wouldn’t subscribe to the theory teams will get him on the cheap after his buyout. Not when guys like David Jones, Drew Stafford, and P-A Parenteau are making $4 million apiece.
Richards still has a Conn Smythe in his back pocket and at just 33 years old he’ll be motivated entering next season. Could the Blues use a pass-first center who can make others around him better? Sure, but you’re keeping your fingers crossed he can still be that guy.
The Blues could open up some salary by trading a contract this summer. Jaro Halak is due 4.5 million next season and the team has some alternative options in house with Brian Elliott and up and comer Jake Allen.
Trying to predict how Elliott, or any goaltender for that matter, will perform next season has proven to be difficult.
Even at $4.5 next season Halak’s contract is movable. Just keep in mind his value isn’t what it was when the Blues traded for him from Montreal. With only one year left, there are teams out there who would be interested. Halak is still as good as any goalie out there when he’s on his game and when he’s healthy. He also thrives when he sees a lot of activity and seems to perform better when playing behind a loose defense.
He’s told me numerous times how hard it can be going several minutes at a time without facing a shot. He, like a lot of goalies, finds his rhythm when he’s busy.
This is generally the time of year GM’s start revisiting conversations they had with one another around the trade deadline.
Scouts who saw Robyn Regehr play in Buffalo last season were quick to say he can no longer skate. He can’t get there and therefore is a liability. He’s proven to be pretty valuable for the LA Kings and Darryl Sutter is playing him almost 21:00 per game. It looks like Sutter has played Regehr into shape.
I never like to see a coach get fired but John Tortorella could probably use a rest. I understand that he won a Cup, but he isn’t Scotty Bowman either. I think he’s a good coach but he also rubs a lot of people the wrong way, including his own players.
Chris Stewart has started his off-ice program with Toronto based trainer Matt Nichol. He’s also working with a dietician who has specifically designed his diet for him along with having meals delivered daily.
Despite the rumors the Blues have no plans of changing their uniforms next season. There are deadlines in place to make this happen which have already passed. This process takes time when you consider the production, marketing, color scheme, design, trademarks etc…
Look for the Dallas Stars and the Carolina Huricanes to release their new uniforms on June 4th.
Congrats to Luke Kunin, a member of the U-16 AAA Blues last season, on committing to play his college hockey at the University of Wisconsin. Kunin will be a sophomore next year in high school and will attend the U.S. Development program in Ann Arbor. Kunin joins Matthew Tkachuk as the second member of the U-16 team to commit a college. Tkachuk, also headed to the U.S. program, already committed to Notre Dame.
More to come,
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