Blueshirts, Buyouts and Brad, oh my!!
As soon as the Bruins complete their improbable comeback in the Stanley Cup Finals and bring the championship to Boston for the first time in nearly forty years, I'm advocating we just skip ahead to the draft on June 24th. Let's dispense with all of the pointless rumors and BS that are already dominating the news in Hockeyland.
It's insane, it really is. A report will surface in one publication or on one website which seems credible enough. At least until it is completely debunked or contradicted by another, equally credible appearing source. Want proof? Look no further than what is going on around the Rangers with stories of buyouts and rumors on where Brad Richards wants to be and where he doesn't want to be....... allegedly.
Jesse Spector of the New York Daily News began the buyout bonanza story claiming a source close to the situation had informed them that the Rangers intended to eat the remaining year on Chris Drury's deal. Given John Tortorella's comments after the club's exit meetings, it would come as no surprise if the Rangers did buyout Drury. What was surprising was that Spector was the first to report it as official instead of Larry Brooks, the New York Post's Rangers beat writer.
Of course Brooks later confirmed the accuracy of Spector's report and added the tidbit that Drury had already been informed of the team's intentions. And while Spector suggested the club was also likely to buyout the final season of Wojtek Wolski's deal, Brooks stated that both Wolski and Sean Avery would survive.
Alright, not too bad. We now had two independent sources reporting Drury was all but gone. It passes the sniff test considering the Rangers are expected to pursue Brad Richards in free agency and need as much cap space as possible for that purpose and also for re-signing their own RFA's. Except this is June and rumors are constantly evolving.
Leave it to Arthur Staple of Newsday to spoil the fun. He reported that no decisions had been made on whether or not to buyout Drury, Avery or Wolski.
Ok, Staple didn't exactly say the Rangers wouldn't buyout Drury; he simply said a final decision had not been reached.
The contradictions are even more confusing on the Brad Richards front. Earlier this spring, reports surfaced that the free agent center had his priorities in order. His first wish was to sign an extension in Dallas. His second choice was a return to Tampa. Finally, if it couldn't work out with Dallas or Tampa, Richards would then prefer to reunite with his former coach, John Tortorella, in New York with the Rangers.
Other stories have claimed Richards preferred to return to the Eastern Conference but had no interest in signing in Toronto. There's some good news. Toronto was likely going to be the Rangers biggest challenger for Richards. They have as desperate a need for a #1 center. They also have more cap space than NY. Now that word is he won't want to play for Toronto, things get much easier for the Rangers.
Richards himself stated he wanted to join a club with stable ownership. Considering he was traded from Tampa because ownership there could no longer afford his salary and the ownership issues in Dallas kept Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk from offering Richards a deal he felt was fair, it's understandable he would want to go to a stable organization.
All of this was like music to the ears of Rangers fans. With Dallas and Tampa all but out of the running, we became Richards top choice according to some reports. We are in the Eastern Conference, a place Richards supposedly wanted to play. And as much as we might hate Dolan, he is the personification of a stable owner. It seemed, if these stories were true, Richards was destined to be a Ranger come July first.
Richards' agent, Pat Morris, has joined the fray too. He's said that they will listen to any offer from any club legitimately interested in Brad. Now Morris is his agent and that's exactly what an agent should say if he wants to build a market for his client.
No big deal, the Rangers should have enough cap space to lob a competitive offer. That combined with all of the other info still pointed to a successful summer resolution for the Blueshirts.
But then Larry Brooks had to throw water on the proverbial fire. He tweeted that sources had told him Richards did NOT want to play for the Rangers. What?!?!?!
Richards was then quoted in the Tampa Tribune as saying, “Maybe you couldn't get top dollar (in Tampa) that you might get somewhere else,” he said, “but you consider other things.”
That sure sounds as if he's suggesting he would take less dollars to return to Tampa, doesn't it?
There's even debate whether Richards will stop Dallas from dealing his rights to another team by exercising his NMC. Nieuwendyk is certainly trying to obtain something for Richards yet his agent quashed that by claiming Richards had no interest in waiving his NMC to facilitate a trade. But Craig Custance of the Sporting News claims that Richards is working closely with Nieuwendyk to find a suitable club to be dealt to.
So what can you believe? What is true and what isn't? These are the questions that won't be answered in full until at least July first. That's why I say we just skip the week or so between the end of the finals and the draft and then fast-forward from the conclusion of the draft until July first. The questions, contradictions and confusion are too much to deal with.