The New York Rangers will have a number of roster moves to consider over the next two summers with many of the team's best players having just one or two years remaining on their current contracts.
Luckily for general manager Glen Sather, he has two buyouts to use this summer or in the summer of 2014 thanks to the new CBA. Since it's very likely that veteran defenseman Wade Redden will be bought out in the offseason, who should Sather consider buying out after that?
The two best options are star forwards Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards.
Before last season, Richards signed one of the long-term, back-diving contracts that the league was able to successfully eliminate in the new CBA, and he is owed $52 million over the next eight seasons with a salary cap hit of $6.66 million.
Gaborik has two years remaining on his current contract with a yearly salary and cap hit of $7.5 million.
The player who should be bought out is Richards. He's 32 years old and his offensive production has dropped by at least 10 points in each of the last two seasons.
The Rangers won't have to buy out Richards after the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, but in the summer of 2014, he should be bought out.
Here's a list of important players that Sather will need to re-sign before or during the 2014 offseason.
|Player||Age (in 2014)||Position||Current Cap Hit||Notes|
|Henrik Lundqvist||32||G||$6.875 million||This is a no-brainer. Lundqvist should be an elite goaltender for many more years.|
|Dan Girardi||30||D||$3.25 million||If he keeps playing well, Girardi must be re-signed. He's a top-two defenseman and excels at both ends of the ice.|
|Ryan Callahan||29||RW||$4.275 million||The captain has to be re-signed and it's unlikely he will demand a lot of money.|
|Marian Gaborik||32||RW||$7.5 million||He will be 32 years old when his contract expires, and unless he is injury-free over the next two years and willing to sign for less than $7.5 million, Gaborik shouldn't be re-signed.|
|Brian Boyle||29||C||$1.7 million||Shouldn't be too expensive to re-sign, and since the Rangers lack bottom-six depth, Boyle is an important role player.|
|Chris Kreider||23||LW||$1.325 million||Only RFA on this list and must be re-signed since he's a star in the making.|
This list doesn't even include players that need to be re-signed right now (Michael Del Zotto) and guys who have contracts expiring after this season (Ryan McDonagh, Carl Hagelin and Derek Stepan).
A lot of these players should be re-signed since most of them are young and very important to the Rangers' success. Buying out Richards would make this easier for Sather.
Sather won't have to buy him out this season because buyouts can be made this summer or in 2014, but keeping Richards beyond the 2013-14 season, when he will be 34 years old and have six years left on his contract with a $6.66 million cap hit, just isn't good business.
Richards will be 40 years old by the end of the 2019-20 season, which is the final year of his contract. He won't be worth a $6.66 million cap hit at that age, or in the few years before that.
If Sather buys out Richards in 2014, he will get two more years of Richards' leadership and playoff production, which will probably be the final seasons of his prime. By that time, many of the Rangers will have plenty of playoff experience and Richards won't be as valuable.
The Richards signing wasn't a bad one at all, but keeping him beyond the 2013-14 season just doesn't make sense when Sather has two buyouts to use and a lot of good players to re-sign in the next two years.
Luckily for the Rangers, they have the financial resources to buy out Richards at some point in the next two years.
Richards is a good player, and will be for a few more years, but his contract is too long and is too expensive. He's a valuable player right now, but in the final five years of his deal, he won't be worth his salary or cap hit.