Friday, July 1, 2011

Rangers Hold Winning Ticket In Richards Lottery?

Arthur Staple at Newsday thinks the Rangers are holding the winning ticket in the Brad Richards lottery.  Staple believes the lack of actual serious bidders, the ability to front-load the contract and the market are the three main reasons the Rangers will be the winners. 

Staple could be exactly right that those three factors will eventually lead the Rangers to securing the prize of the 2011 free agent class, but each of those factors can work against them as well.  Sometimes it is not the number of bidders that matter, but which teams are involved and with both New York and Toronto definitely involved the competitive nature of Sather and Burke will likely come into play.  If Richards is serious about wanting to win, then he will need other teams like Buffalo or Tampa or even Philadelphia to be involved as Toronto, even after improving late last season is not seen as a viable winner at the moment.

In terms of the idea of front-loading the contract, that normally would help the Rangers, but as the Ehrhoff deal showed, Terry Pegula is not afraid to flash his money around and do so upfront.  If Pegula is willing to pay Ehrhoff $18 million over the next two seasons, how high might he go for Richards?  Could the money for Richards get as high as $20-25 million over the next two years? 

For his final point Staple referenced the hockey market as a key for New York…

Market. Buffalo may be able to entice Ehrhoff, but Richards likely won't be swayed to go north like that. Toronto has a rabid market, of course -- perhaps too rabid. Richards is low-key, much like Marian Gaborik, and New York, despite the reputation for toughness, isn't exactly a place where a hockey player steals all the headlines, in good times or bad.

Toronto is a hockey crazed town, but if winning was the main priority, they were likely out after the first reason and no longer matter.  A place like Buffalo has the hockey market just as much as New York does and he could do it there without the scrutiny of the big contract with the Rangers. 

These three factors could be the keys to the Rangers landing Richards and at least in the short term feeling like they won the lottery, but each of them can work just as well for another team, thus leaving us back where we started in not knowing what Richards will do.