GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said Monday that the organization has not made a decision on the future of center Brad Richards, who has six seasons remaining on his contract but has been rumored to be a candidate for a compliance buyout.
"We met [Sunday] for the first time with our scouts," Vigneault said. "We're going through the process of evaluating our team. Obviously everybody knows we've got quite a few decisions to make. We're just starting that process now. We've still got quite a bit of work to do."
The window for NHL teams to use their remaining compliance buyouts opened Monday. It runs through 5 p.m. ET on June 30.
Under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams were given two special buyout provisions to be used after the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons. Buyouts do not count toward the salary cap.
The Rangers have one remaining; they received special permission to use their first one in January 2013 on defenseman Wade Redden.
RANGERS HEAD INTO OFFSEASON
Richards' contract runs through the 2019-20 season and carries an annual salary-cap charge of approximately $6.67 million, according to Capgeek.com.
The 34-year-old was third on the team in scoring during the regular season with 51 points and second with 20 goals. He played in all 82 games.
Richards then had five goals and seven assists in 25 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but he was demoted to the fourth line for Games 4 and 5 of the Stanley Cup Final.
"If you look at Brad's overall season, he had a real good year," Vigneault said. "In the Final series I don't know if it was a combination of some other guys might have been playing better than he was, but we had some decisions to make in Game 4 and Game 5. But his overall play, 5-on-5 and on the power play, during the year was very good. I'm very happy with what he brought to the table; a veteran player that from Day 1 was a real good extension of the coaching staff in that dressing room. I think he should walk away from this season very pleased in how he played and how he contributed to our team.
"As everybody knows there are decisions to be made. We haven't made those yet. We're going to talk and figure it out."
Asked if he would be a fan of Richards returning to the club, Vigneault responded:
"I'm a big fan of Brad Richards. When I got named [coach] last year, the first day I got named, I went to meet him right after. I've known Brad from my junior days in [Prince Edward Island]. He helped me out with my team over there during the [2004-05] lockout. He is a classy, classy individual. We'll see what happens."
Richards' teammates certainly would like to see him return.
"In this dressing room we all hope he's going to be back," Rangers center Derick Brassard said.
Richards was one of the few players who did not address the media Monday, when the Rangers took their end-of-season physicals and met with Vigneault.
"Brad is an experienced guy that knows we've got some decisions to make," Vigneault said. "They're not easy. We're looking at different things. He's going to be a pro and he's going to wait until we make up our mind."