Originally written July 11, 2012 on Blue Seat Blogs:
One year into a massive nine-year contract is a pretty small sample size to determine if the signing of Brad Richards was a win or loss for the New York Rangers. Though Richards’ production (25 goals, 41 assists) was a bit disappointing from a numbers standpoint, he still had a massive impact on the Blueshirts this season.  It’s too early to make any concrete judgments on his tenure in New York, but we’ve already learned a good amount about Richards’ impact on the franchise.
  • Richards fits like a glove in this city and on this team.  There were countless reports this season of Richards tutoring Michael Del Zotto and Richards was consistently credited for being a terrific teammate and positive locker room influence.  The Rangers are an extremely young team with very little postseason experience and Richards’ value as a guiding hand and an example for the baby Blueshirts can’t be overstated.
  • He’s about as clutch as it gets.  Chris Drury came to New York with a reputation for being one of the marquee crunch-time performers in sports, but for he never became that go-to guy for the Rangers.  Richards arrived with a similar history of postseason and late-game excellence and he immediately demonstrated that his clutch trait would continue even under the bright lights of Broadway.  Richards netted nine game-winning goals to lead the club, some of them in dramatic fashion like the harmless spin-o-rama backhander against Phoenix with less than a second left in regulation on December 17th.  Richards followed his clutch regular season up with an equally impressive postseason that saw him net 15 points (six goals, nine assists) to lead the team.  There are zero questions about his ability to handle the pressure of New York and Richards has quickly established himself as the team’s savior in late-game situations.
  • One of the primary reasons Richards was brought to New York was to quarterback the club’s woeful power play.  Though Richards posted 24 points on the man advantage (seven goals, 17 assists) he was unable to transform the team’s power play by himself.  The Blueshirts finished ranked 23rd on the man advantage and struggled for huge chunks of the season to even generate scoring chances.  Richards didn’t perform badly on the power play by any means, but it’s clear that he needs help in turning New York’s special teams around.
  • That enormous nine-year, $60 million contract that was so alarming last summer suddenly doesn’t look so bad, especially following the 13-year, $98 million deals signed by Zach Parise and Ryan Suter this summer.  Sure, Richards is older than either player and at age 32, he may not be able to live up to his billing deep into his term in New York.  But the $6.67 million cap hit is reasonable and if the last couple of seasons on his deal indeed turn out to be throwaways, only included originally to lower his cap number, then the Richards contract may eventually be viewed as relatively fair.  It’s tough to judge how any long-term contracts signed over the last couple of seasons will be viewed down the road because we don’t know what will happen with the CBA, but the current trend of more years and more dollars makes the Richards deal much easier to stomach than it was 12 months ago.  If the owners get their way and contracts are limited to a maximum length of six years under the new CBA and the salary cap is lowered substantially, then we might think about this a little differently.
In year two, Richards’ honeymoon period will be long over and he’ll be expected to produce at nearly a point-per-game pace.  The Rangers will need him to carry the offense, especially in Marian Gaborik’s absence.  How successful he is at doing that will likely determine how we view him next summer, but for now, Richards is looking like a pretty solid signing.  
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Giants shut out Pirates, advance to NLDS

Cowboys' Spillman accused of rape at team hotel

Report: Patriots benched WR for mouthing off to coach

Jose Bautista busts up reporter over Twitter

Sammy Watkins calls out EJ Manuel

Larry Donnell benches himself in fantasy, loses because of it

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Josh Gordon says NFL’s drug policy is harrassment

Steve Smith: Ron Rivera hid in his office after cutting me

Rondo hoping for an opening night return from broken hand

Jon Gruden on Raiders job: 'I'm not thinking about coaching'

Tom Brady defends not congratulating Garoppolo on TD

Ohio State student who ran on field loses full scholarship

ESPN reporter announces she has breast cancer

Byron Scott explains why Kobe wouldn't make a good coach

Hibbert texts Duncan for advice on being like Spurs

Belichick repeats moving 'on to Cincinnati' during presser

Donald Sterling’s wife called the cops on V. Stiviano

WATCH: Mayweather shocked someone doesn’t know who he is

Who is the new face of MLB?

NHL 15 predicts the LA Kings win the Cup again

J.J. Watt buys his mom a new car for her birthday

Ranking the NFL coaches already sitting on the hot seat

WATCH: Smith tells Panthers to go home and mow his lawn

The best games on the NFL slate in Week 5

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Cowboys player accused of rape

Scott: Kobe would not be a good coach

Pats WR benched for mouthing off?

Sammy Watkins calls out EJ Manuel

Donnell benches himself in fantasy and loses

Gordon: Drug policy is harrassment

Who is the new face of baseball?

Steve Smith blasts Panthers coach, GM

What will the A’s look like in 2015?

All-Disappointment Team in MLB

Ryan Lochte: Phelps made dumb decision

WATCH: Brett Favre in new commercial

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.