tried to stay away from this line of thinking, even though Brad Richards has clearly struggled so far this season. But both Larry Brooks and Rick Carpiniello have discussed the possibility the past two days, and I do think it's a subject that should at least be touched upon.

The fact of the matter is, the Rangers don't have much time to make any of their decisions. The cap is coming down, key names will be rotating into RFA and UFA status and the Rangers might want to have some room to make moves.

I really do think Brooks put it best in his column on Sunday:

Under different circumstances, if the cap were not decreasing, if there were no cap-recapture, if they hadn't been forced to buy out Wade Redden because of a retroactive clause meant to punish the Rangers, then the organization could afford Richards patience and the benefit of the doubt even if this season is a down one. Only ifs and buts won't cut it.

We are 17 games into a 48-game season that could be followed by up to 28 more in the playoffs. And so, again, this Richards buyout talk is indeed a case of premature speculation. But the obligation falls on Richards to ensure it doesn't become more than that.

There have been concerns about the Richards' contract since the lockout ended. The new CBA isn't friendly towards contracts like the one Richards currently holds, and especially with the star player's struggles, anything is possible.