There had been speculation the club would use its second and final compliance buyout to terminate the final seven seasons of Richards' contract, which runs through the 2019-20 season with a salary-cap charge of just over $6.67 million per season.
Richards had 34 points in 46 regular-season games but struggled in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, scoring one goal in 10 games and finding himself a healthy scratch for the final two games of the conference semifinals against the Boston Bruins.
The Rangers used their first compliance buyout on defenseman Wade Redden prior to the 2012-13 season.
It was definitely emotional. I really appreciated the fans. It was a cool feeling and it felt special and the ovation there at the start and then you kind of feel funny out there standing by yourself. Thinking back, I was saying just a bit ago, you think back just trying to make the NHL and then you kind of reflect on all the years being able to play for a great organization here in Calgary and all the fun I've had so far in my career. I feel very fortunate and blessed.
— Boston forward Jarome Iginla on his return to Calgary, where he played for 16 seasons