The decision not to buyout Richards reeks of Dolan as it seemed everyone else wanted him gone. To say I'm shocked wouldn't be correct as this franchise has a history of giving out bad contracts to over the hill players. Now 2 things could be happening:
1) Sather could be working on trading Richards, which would not shock me as we know how many teams were interested in acquiring him when he was a free agent
2) AV plans to use him as a winger to mask his deficiencies as I was hoping we would look like this down the center next season Stepan, Brassard, Boyle, Lindberg. With less pressure and responsibilities in the defensive zone he could focus on offense, ie Eric Lindros when he was moved to wing as a Ranger. Now will Richards be successful, who knows, but his days as a top 6 center are over. He was signed to play center with Gaborik, Gabby is gone and Richards should be too.
The decision to keep Richards leaves the Rangers open to significant cap recapture penalties -- upwards of $17 million -- should the former Conn Smythe Trophy winner retire before the expiration of his contract in 2019.