Richards has a stunning lack of effect on the play these days. I was joking about it last year but it was just as apparent this year - the guy just doesn't have the puck on his stick that often and doesn't make much happen with it when he does. He's a passenger. If he's not doing real well on the power play (and he's not), he's not doing enough 5 on 5 to make up for it.
The difference between Richards and Elias is that Elias is a HOF-level defensive forward and Richards is bad by any standard. Elias over the last 5 years is +382 shots while on ice at 5 on 5, Richards is -137. Now Richards' on ice shooting percentage is a little higher than Elias's, but even we use their normal shooting percentages and league average save percentages, Elias should be +51, Richards +22. That's a huge difference, one that I doubt can be made up by the quality of teammates each guy has had over that stretch. And again, Elias is coming off another great year and Richards is coming off his worst year.
I think he'll be bought out this summer and someone will pay him a decent amount, but a 4 year contract for a guy who's a healthy scratch on a playoff team? I don't think so.
I know it's sacrilege, but as a hockey person I actually like Torts as a coach.
I think Torts has done a very good job in his tenure with the Rags. Sather killed the team early the year, with the Nash deal, trading Rupp, not signing Prust. Sather redeemed some with the Gaborik deal, but Tort's doesn't have a lot of talent or depth, but they are in second round (for now).
Richards is done in New York, and they will be a better team with Torts at the helm.