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2011 NHL Free Agency: Rangers Will Go After Richards

I know what you're thinking: "Duh." Maybe I should have added the word "hard" to the end of the title. Again, I know what you're thinking: "Duh, again." 

The fact of the matter is, however, the New York Rangers are preparing the ship to do everything within their power to sign the coveted free agent. Money, years and annual cap hit have all been speculated. You hear one thing from one source, you hear an entirely different thing from another. It's the nature of the game. 

Chris Celletti had a good write up about Richards. From his article:  

Brad Richards - C

The question with Brad Richards likely isn't where he'll end up, but for how much and how long. Richards has been coveted by the New York Rangers for some time now, and recent reports have surfaced signaling that Richards wants New York as badly as GM Glen Sather wants him. Richards would fill a massive void for the Rangers. They need a number one center to pair withMarian Gaborik, and desperately need someone who can quarterback the power play. Richards does both, and does them very well. But how much is reasonable for a 31-year-old player coming off of a concussion?

You can't argue with Richards' numbers -- over the past two years, he has scored 52 goals, 116 assists and 168 points in 152 regular season games. But at the money and terms he could command, somewhere in the ballpark of 8 years and $7 million per year, is he worth it? With the Rangers not being just one player away, it is a dangerous contract to hand out. For the first few years of the contract, he'd likely be a great get, but it's the back four years you have to be concerned about. It could be Chris Drury all over again. The Flyers are interested, as are theMaple Leafs, but it's likely the Rangers will pay Richards what he wants, and he'll be a Blueshirt as early as Friday.

Richards knows how bad Sather wants him to be a Ranger, giving him a significant amount of leverage at the negotiating table. Some reports say he is looking for an eight-year deal, and if he sticks to his guns on that, I don't know if I see Sather walking away from the table. 

Richards is an elite talent, he's a rare blend of goal scoring and playmaking skills, and the Rangers are in desperate need of his services. 

Friday (or really tonight at midnight), will mark "second one" in which the Rangers can go after him. They got to Marion Gaborik early, and he ended up signing. We should see the same thing tomorrow. 

But until Friday rolls around, we'll have to wait. Just like everyone else.