BUY OR TRADE

The New York Rangers have their hearts set once again on the top prize of the free agent class which opens seven days from today.

When the bell rings and negotiating can begin, the Rangers will be putting a full-court press on Dallas centerman Brad Richards and it’s a mistake.

Let’s be honest for a moment shall we?

Brad Richards is a talented center. Saying less than that is nothing short of foolish. In 772 games as a professional Richards has 220 goals and 496 helpers for a total of 716 points. That puts him for his career at .927 points per game. Impressive numbers for sure.

However, Richards is 31 years old and is certainly not on the upswing of his career.

Over the last three seasons, Richards has played 56 games in 2008 – 2009, 80 in 2009 – 2010 and then 72 last season.

While he is not injury prone, this past season he sustained a pretty substantial concussion and they are pretty tricky things concussions are.

Secondly, Richards is certainly going to command a premium price. He is NOT going to come to New York at any sort of a discount. He may adore John Tortorella as a coach, but the Rangers Bench Boss is not going to be paying Richard’s mortgage nor is he going to put his children through college.

Richards wants a final big payday. He is going to want minimally the kind of a contract that Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, Bobby Holik, Wade Redden and an endless list of other aging veterans have wanted to hang their skates in the World’s Most Famous Arena.  It’s the kind of deal that once again will tie the hands of the organization and take them away from their focus of going younger and deeper.

Why go after Richards and throw the youth plan out the window with it?

Why not consider an alternative?

Why not pursue a trade with Colorado for Paul Stastny?

It is believed that Stastny is available, but he would be costly in terms of the players the Blueshirts would have to give up to get the 25-year old center. But if you have to give up talent and you have a young man tied up with a more reasonable $6.6M for the next three years while he is still in the prime of his career.

That just makes more sense.

Statistically, Stastny isn’t as strong as Richards, but it isn’t off by much.

Stastny has potted 105 goals and chipped in 216 assists for 321 points over his 348 NHL games. That averages out to .922 points per game.

So Stastny is younger than Richards, still on the upswing in his career as opposed to the downside, is tied up for three more years for less money than Richards would cost the team and he’s merely potting .005 points per game less than Richards.

While Richards has a great deal of upside in terms of his talent and skill and familiarity with Tortorella, the Rangers have a long and ugly track record when it comes to signing players like this. It just never seems to make a difference or work out.

The example  used so often when applying a definition to the word insane is repeatedly doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result each time.

The Rangers have tried this move a whole lot of times and it continues to not work out.

When the 2011 – 2012 season starts it will be the 17th without a Banner raising celebration. The Rangers are on the right path building from youth and form within. It just makes sense to take some of the young prospects that they have and trade for a young player that stays in their plan to to once again veer off course.

Let’s hope we’re wrong.

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3 responses to “BUY OR TRADE

  1. Colorado Mark

    Mitch,

    I’m someone who is probably biased about Richards, but I have to say that the difference between signing Richards and those other guys is that Richards is a committed professional who has no family distractions and is a work out fanatic. He is a smart player who relies on vision rather than physical attributes that will decline. Signing him costs the Rangers no assets and the cap continues to climb. It’s a risk, but Richards at this stage of his career is a much smarter decision than the other contracts you mentioned. I also think that we would have to give up a lot to acquire Stasny (I see him a lot out here, and he’s a good player, but not sure he’s the number one center we need and he doesn’t quarterback a powerplay like Richards can). As always, I am thankful for your blog.

    PS. I read somewhere that Jeremy Williams signed in Austria? have you heard that? I might have missed a blog entry, so forgive me if you’ve already posted it. He seemed like an important player on the pack as far as veteran leadership. I can understand why he left, but wondering if that will hurt the Whale?

  2. Colorado Mark

    Mitch-

    Sorry, just re-read the post on Kolarik and you referenced him going (I read that post, so it must have been here that I read it! Duh!). I’ll try to find another entry where you gave your thoughts! Hope your summer is going well!

  3. Here’s the problem with Richards… He’s 31 and wants an 8 year deal, according to Larry Brooks today. I don’t care at this point if he’s the second coming of Mark Messier, I’m not signing off on an 8 year deal. They didn’t sign Marc Staal to an 8 year deal and he’s probably the only person on the roster that I would do that for. Look at the trouble that they’ve had with Chris Drury’s contract, Wade Redden and so on.

    On top of that, adding a younger player like Stastny who’s already signed is going to cost you a top D-Man, likely Girardi a top prospect like Del Zotto or Weise (I’d FAR prefer to send them Grachev if they’d take him) and a high draft pick. But in return you have a top flight center who’s signed and entering his prime. A FAR better deal as far as I’m concerned.

    Yes, Bruce Berlet reported on the Jeremy Williams signing a while back.

    Mark…you’re a good man… Thank you for following…