DESPITE struggling through the worst season of his 13-year NHL career, Brad Richards will be a Ranger for at least one more year.
Rangers president and general manager Glen Sather and his advisers clearly believe that the 33-year-old playmaker will rebound under new coach Alain Vigneault's style, and will not buy out the final seven years of the centre's $60-millon contract this summer.
But the decision, announced Friday, is risky both in the long run and short-term.
Under the collective bargaining agreement, the special compliance buyout option remains in place for next summer, when the Rangers could cut ties with Richards and eliminate the $6.7 million annual salary cap charge for the remaining six seasons. That is, only if he is not hurt.
Injured players are ineligible to be bought out. If Richards isn't eligible next summer, the Rangers would face significant cap-recapture penalties if he retired before the end of the contract, which runs through 2019-20.