Richards will stay with New York RangersTeam's brass opted against using compliance buyout on underperforming center
The Rangers announced on Friday that they won't use their remaining compliance buyout during the offseason. Instead, Richards, who has seven years remaining on his nine-year, $60 million deal, will suit up for the Blueshirts to begin the 2013-14 campaign.
Richards became a prime candidate for a buyout after struggling during the 2013 season. He tallied just 11 goals and 34 points in 46 regular-season games. In the playoffs, he scored just once and had a minus-3 rating in 10 contests.
Richards was a healthy scratch for Games 4 and 5 of the Rangers' Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Boston Bruins, fueling rumors that he would be bought out of his current deal.
Two days after the Rangers' ouster in Game 5 against the Bruins, Richards met with the media on the team's breakup day. He expressed a desire to return to New York.
"I signed here to be a Ranger for a lot longer than a year and a half and I hope to do that," Richards said on May 27. "I gotta take care of how I play."
Now, Richards gets his wish.
The move, however, contains some risk for the Rangers. While the team retains its final compliance buyout and can use it following the 2013-14 season, they can't use it on Richards if he is injured. Additionally, should Richards retire, the Rangers will incur a cap hit of more than $6 million per season for the duration of the deal.
But the Rangers appear to be banking on a return to form under the tutelage of their new offensive-minded head coach, Alain Vigneault.
Richards, who won the Stanley Cup in 2003-04 with the Tampa Bay Lightning -- coached by John Tortorella -- is an eight-time 20-goal scorer. Richards also has a pair of 91-point seasons to his credit.