Rangers banking on Richards

BY foxsports • August 22, 2011

The Rangers made it back to the playoffs this spring after a one-year absence, but they didn't stick around long. New York managed only one win before falling to Washington in five games.

The Rangers added some firepower this summer, though, signing the top free agent available in center Brad Richards. They also kept their own key free agents in the fold, re-signing Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan to new deals in hopes of making a longer run next postseason.

2010-11 record: 44-33-5, 93 points (3rd Atlantic Division; 8th Eastern Conference; lost to Washington 4-1 in first round)

Key additions: F Brad Richards (free agent); F Michael Rupp (free agent); F Andreas Thuresson (trade with Nashville); D Tim Erixon (trade with Calgary)

Key losses: F Chris Drury (buyout); F Vaclav Prospal (signed with Columbus); D Matt Gilroy (signed with Tampa Bay); D Bryan McCabe (free agent); F Brodie Dupont (trade with Nashville); F Alexander Frolov (signed with the Avangard Omsk, KHL)

Burning question: Will the Rangers' investment in Brad Richards pay off?

The Rangers are no strangers to handing out huge contracts, and the results haven't been pretty of late. In 2007, they signed Chris Drury to a five-year, $35.25-million deal. After an injury-plagued season in 2010-11 that produced just one goal in 24 games, New York bought out the final year of the deal.

That's better than 2008's big prize, as defenseman Wade Redden was relegated to the AHL last year, collecting $6.5 million in Hartford in the third year of a six-year, $39-million deal. In 2009, Marian Gaborik was lured to the Big Apple for $37.5-million over five years. He delivered 42-44-86 totals in his first season, but slipped to 22-26-48 last year.

Last summer the Rangers committed $6.5 million over four years for enforcer Derek Boogaard, who tragically passed away this offseason after injuries limited him to 22 games in a Rangers uniform.

Richards has a better track record than any of those previous signings, but he's also 31 (and will be 40 by the time his deal with New York expires) and is coming off a season shortened by a serious concussion.

2011-12 outlook: The Rangers have a solid nucleus in place with Richards (28-49-77 totals in 72 games with Dallas) joining Dubinsky (24-30-54), Callahan (23-25-48 in 60 games), Gaborik and the surprising Boyle up front.

Boyle had 21-14-35 totals while playing in all 82 games last year, after managing just 12-4-16 totals in 107 career games prior to last season. Was his 2010-11 campaign a breakthrough or just a fluke?

The Rangers also have plenty of talent on the blue line, but not a lot of experience with Dan Girardi the oldest of the club's projected top seven defensemen at just 27. It does help to have goalie Henrik Lundqvist playing behind them. He was 36-27-5 with a 2.28 GAA, .923 save percentage and 11 shutouts last season.

Did you know? When the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins and Rangers get together, don't expect many blowouts.

Since the Rangers throttled Boston 7-0 in the St. Patrick’s Day Massacre in New York on March 17, 2007, virtually every clash between the Original Six rivals has gone down to the wire. In their last 17 meetings, 14 have been decided by one goal, with five needing overtime or a shootout to settle it.

The other three games were all decided by two goals, one of which included an empty-netter in the final minute.



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