Brad Richards had a truly forgettable season that culminated in him being a healthy scratch for the Rangers final two playoff games. After some internal discussion, the Rangers decided not to use their final amnesty buy-out on Richards just yet, placing a big bet on Richards’ health and his performance.
Here’s a look at Richards’ 2012-13 season compared to 2011-12:
Richards’ even strength production actually increased slightly, but his powerplay production dipped significantly, leading to his points per game dropping 9%.
Richards didn’t play in any hockey during the September-December lockout, instead focusing his attention on his duties with the NHLPA. He also missed most of the Rangers abbreviated training camp due to sickness. Richards was 32 when the league resumed play, and it’s historically difficult for older players to resume playing after an extended layoff.
Below is the points per game paces of the 10 highest scoring players in the 2006-07 season who:
(1) were 27 years or older at the start of the 2005-06 season; and
(2) didn’t get in game action over the 2004-05 lock-out
|Points Per Game|
As you can see, 8 of the 10 shook off their rust and improved on their 2005-06 seasons. On the average, the sample’s points per game rates increased 16.82% over 2005-06. with a median rate of 16.04%.
So history suggests that Richards should improve on last season. Though Richards only missed four months, not an entire year, so the results would likely be less dramatic. Also, if rust was Richards’ issue, it’s odd that the quality of his play steadily declined throughout the season.
Richards will also be playing for a new contract, as the Rangers are almost assuredly planning to buy-out his contract after the upcoming season. The last two times Richards was playing for a new contract he scored 91 points (23 + 68) in 82 games in 2005-06 and 77 points (28 + 49) in 72 games.
As I’ve said many times, I fully expect Richards to bounce back in a big way next season. Obviously, the Rangers are too, as they placed a big-money bet on it.