Rangers clearing space to pursue Brad Richards?

The recent line of thought has been that Brad Richards' contract demands might be a little too rich for the New York Rangers. Well, it looks like the Rangers are trying to do something about that from their end.

Reports out of New York this morning indicate the Rangers are ready to buy out the contract of forward Chris Drury, which would save the club $3.3 million against the salary cap next season. A buyout of forward Wojtek Wolski appears likely as well, and that would save the Rangers another $3.3 million next season.

The buyout period opens June 15 and runs through June 30. If Richards is a prime target, it opens the possibility the Rangers could try to cut a deal with the Stars for the negotiating rights to Richards, who would have to approve that trade.

Would he approve a deal if the Rangers and Stars were able to agree on one? I don't know. As I've said before, I think there are mixed signals coming from his camp. There doesn't seem to be a great deal of enthusiasm over having his rights transferred, but at the same time there are indications that the door isn't completely closed.

That said, this is Richards' first chance to take his skills to the open market as an unrestricted free agent. That's a big deal and he's definitely earned the opportunity. He and his agent are going to put themselves in the best position to make sure he makes the most of the opportunity.