- Last Updated: 6:14 PM, July 2, 2011
- Posted: 12:13 PM, July 2, 2011
The Rangers did exactly what they pledged they would not do — get into a bidding war for Brad Richards.
But once in, they were in it to win it, which is exactly what the Blueshirts did by signing the lone difference-maker on the free-agent market this morning to a front-loaded, nine-year, $58.5M contract that comes with an annual $6.5M cap hit.
Richards, the 31-year-old elite playmaker and power-play quarterback who spent the first seven years of his career playing for current Rangers’ coach John Tortorella in Tampa Bay, is believed to have spurned slightly higher offers from Calgary and Toronto in order to sign with the Blueshirts.
It is not known, however, if the Flames or Maple Leafs presented dramatically front-loaded offers.
Toronto general manager Brian Burke testified as to his opposition to such deals in last year’s Ilya Kovalchuk circumvention hearing.
The Kings were also finalists in the derby in which the Flyers and Lightning had also been participants.
Richards, who recorded 77 points (28-49) in 72 games for the Stars last season, will combine on the first-line with right wing Marian Gaborik, who had such a disappointing 2010-11, and a left wing to be named later. Unsigned restricted free agent Brandon Dubinsky would appear the perfect fit for that assignment.
The Rangers should have approximately $3.5M of space available after they sign their own restricted free agents— Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, Artem Anisimov, Brian Boyle and Michael Sauer.