Friday, November 11, 2011

Richards Failing To Pay Dividends For Rangers?

Rapid reactions to moves made over the summer are part of the way the sports world operates so it is not surprising that TSN took a look at the best and worst unrestricted free agent moves of the summer thus far.  It is also not surprising that is numbers that become the focal point of assessing impact on the team, and accordingly they viewed Brad Richards move to the Rangers as not paying off for the New York Rangers.
"The biggest free agent in the pond this summer was forward Brad Richards, who made a high profile move from Dallas to the New York Rangers. He was expected to drive their offence but the 31-year-old has given New York less than a point per game and has just four goals in 13 contests."
I was having a similar conversation to this yesterday about whether the Richards signing was truly necessary with what Derek Stepan and Artem Anisimov have shown with Marian Gaborik in the last few days.  However, that conversation was not about whether Richards has disappointed, but if the investment long-term was one the Rangers needed to make.  Personally the jury is still out on that one, but in the early going his impact has been what was to be expected, even if more off the ice than on it.

While it is true that Richards has less than a point per game, recording four goals and six assists in 13 contests, to argue that he has been a disappointment is inaccurate in terms of the Rangers needs.  The “analysis” is also superficial in arguing that point, especially goals, are the key to determining impact.  There is no arguing right now about how influential Richards has been with Stepan and Del Zotto in helping them advance their respective games early in the season.  Stepan gets to learn from and talk with a playmaking center who has been at the highest levels in this league.  Del Zotto gets the pressure taken off him to be the savior as power play quarterback and allowed to just use his offensive instincts more freely while learning how to better play that role.  Those things cannot be quantified by looking at Brad Richards statistics alone and are invaluable adds to the Rangers organization.