It’s July 1st, time once again for Glen Sather to go shopping on the open market. It’s a time of nervous excitement for we Ranger fans, though not always of the positive variety.
Wade Redden, Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, Donald Brashear, Ales Kotalik, and even Michal Rozsival, who was technical a UFA when they resigned him to $5M a year after they failed to secure the services of Zdeno Chara – who reportedly wanted nothing to do with New York.
All overpaid free agents who cashed in on the Rangers’ need for improvement. And for all intents and purposes, we expect that trend to continue today when the Rangers pursue Brad Richards.
Certainly Richards is the cream of a very light crop. He’s consistently put up solid numbers, scored a career high 28 goals last season – despite missing ten games due to a concussion – and is just two year off of his career high of 91 points.
But Richards is 31, said to be looking for a seven year contract, and has not played with any of the current Ranger roster, nor in New York. Add to that interest from the majority of the teams in the league, and you have a recipe for a massive commitment on the contract just to secure his services.
He’ll get that no movement clause, the same one that stuck the Rangers with having to buy the final year of their captain’s contract out. He’ll get his seven years – if not more. And it doesn’t seem inconceivable to see him get more than the seven million per year that he’s said to be seeking.
The bottom line is that even if he does perform, he’s likely only going to be worth the money for a minority portion of his contract. It would seem the chances are likely that we’ll see his best year in season one, and a drop off just like we have seen with Jaromir Jagr and Chris Drury. Age catches up with everyone.
He’s a piece of what the Rangers need, but he’s not the whole piece of the puzzle. The Blueshirts continue to search for a blueliner who can distribute the puck, and one has to wonder whether Tomas Kaberle will be targeterd. Coming off a Stanley Cup win, Kaberle saw his ice time and his responsibilities reduced, in much the same way his former team mate Bryan McCabe saw his role change after joining the Rangers.
This free agent market is one of the weakest in a string of relatively weak years. Those who buy in this market will see little value for their dollar. The Rangers do need talent for sure, but perhaps the better approach might be to look at the trade market, even give up a valuable asset or two, to ultimately get what’s needed. The free agent market certainly hasn’t provided it to date.