The Rangers are back to doing business as usual.
After taking the 2010 free agent season basically off from their usual splashes, the Blueshirts are front and err….center with the signing of free agent pivot Brad Richards to a nine year deal worth $58.5 million or a cap hit of $6.5 million a year, according to multiple reports. He chose the Rangers over offers from the Kings, Flames, Maple Leafs, Flyers, and Lightning.
Richards gives the Rangers the playmaking center they lacked for years, arguably since Eric Lindros was on the club in the early 2000s, while also giving them a set-up man for sniper right wing Marian Gaborik.
Last season in Dallas, Richards had 28 goals in 49 assists in 72 games, missing almost a month due to a concussion in February. The Rangers tried to work out a deadline deal for the center, but were rebuffed in their attempts, as Richards wanted to stay in Dallas and then test the free agent market.
He will now reunite with John Tortorella, who coached Richards in Tampa back in 2004, winning the Conn Smyth Trophy and Stanley Cup that season.
Along with Gaborik, Richards will possibly matchup with left wing Brandon Dubinsky, to form a potent No. 1 line on a team that lacked the scoring touch last season.
This should end the Rangers big ticket shopping this off-season as the club, after signing Richards, center Mike Rupp, and re-signing Ruslan Fedotenko to contracts.
After this shopping spree and the Rangers re-up their own restricted free agents – Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, Artem Anisimov, Brian Boyle and Michael Sauer – the team should have anywhere between $3.5 million to $4 million left in cap space.