In the wake of their loss in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Los Angeles Kings, the New York Rangers have begun to reshape their roster. In an expected move, they bought out the contract of alternate captain Brad Richards on Friday.
The 34-year-old Richards had six years remaining on a front-loaded nine-year deal worth $60 million that he signed in 2011. The compliance buyout will see Richards make two thirds of the remaining salary on the deal, paid out over twice the remaining term. For Richards, that means he will make $12.6 million over the next 12 years. In addition, he will be paid the remaining $8 million of his signing bonus.
The move was not surprising considering Richards’ age, declining skills and term remaining on his deal. The Rangers only have 12 players under contract for next season, with several of their free agents in line for raises. With a compliance buyout, none of the money due to Richards will count against the salary cap.
Richards was third on the team in scoring last season, with 51 points in 82 games. His production tailed off some in the playoffs, where he scored 12 points in 25 games. He was demoted to the fourth line for games four and five of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Richards won a Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004, and was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. Richards has 867 points in 982 NHL games. A veteran of 13 NHL seasons, Richards has played with the Rangers, Lightning and the Dallas Stars.
As he had a no-movement clause in his contract, Richards was not required to pass through waivers prior to being bought out. He is now an unrestricted free agent, free to sign with any team other than the Rangers.
The Rangers have now used both of their allotted compliance buyouts, having used their first on defenseman Wade Redden in January 2013. Teams have until June 30 to use their compliance buyouts, which were a provision of the latest collective bargaining agreement.