NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — Center Brad Richards appears to be the rare gem in a free-agent class that contains many familiar names, but not a lot of elite talent.
Now he is off the market.
The Rangers have reportedly signed Richards for a 9 year deal worth about $60 million.
The Rangers have long coveted Richards, who would give them the playmaking center they have been searching for and someone to quarterback an often stagnant power play. His familiarity with Rangers coach John Tortorella, who coached Richards when they won the Stanley Cup together with the Tampa Bay Lightning, makes this appear to be a natural fit if New York can meet Richards’ contract demands and squeeze him under what is still a crowded cap for them.
“I don’t believe in talking people into something,” Tortorella said of the free agency period on Thursday, according to the New York Post. “If they don’t want to be here, I don’t want them.”
The Rangers made some room Wednesday when they bought out the final year of captain Chris Drury’s contract, cutting ties with one of the centers who never quite filled their needs.
“I love the guy, but we still have to make a decision we feel is best for the hockey club,” Tortorella said.
Philadelphia could also be in the mix one week after the Flyers shipped out star forwards Mike Richards (Los Angeles) and Jeff Carter (Columbus) in a reshaping of the club that also freed up cap space.
Team chairman Ed Snider said he hopes Philadelphia is done with big moves for now, but there was some buzz that the Flyers could take a run at restricted free agent Steven Stamkos, who has combined for 96 goals the past two seasons with the Lightning. The Flyers appeared to refute those rumors when they released a statement Thursday night saying they wouldn’t being pursuing restricted free agents.
While no team will spend up to the $64.3 million cap, a $4.9 million increase over last season, each club will have to reach the minimum payroll of $48.3 million. That figure is $9.3 million higher than the original ceiling established after the season-long lockout in 2005.
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