The Rangers used one of their two compliance buyouts when they bought out defenseman Wade Redden, and teams are allowed to use one or both of their remaining compliance buyouts next summer.
Richards is owed $27 million on his deal starting July 1, 2014, and there is strong belief that the Rangers will buy him out and focus on their own free agents, as well as luring other players to town.
With goalie Henrik Lundqvist inked to his long-term extension, the Rangers will have around $30 million in cap space next season, providing the cap comes in around $70 million.
The Rangers only have 10 players signed for the 2014-15 season, though six regulars -- forwards Derick Brassard, Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello, and defensemen Michael Del Zotto, John Moore and Justin Falk are restricted free agents next summer.
While Rangers GM Glen Sather has been shopping Del Zotto and, to a lesser extent, Kreider, signing Brassard and some of the team's key eligible unrestricted free agents is a priority.
Captain Ryan Callahan is in need of a new deal, and his salary is expected to climb over the $4.825 million he's earning this season (his cap hit is currently $4.275M).
Sather must also make a decision on defensemen Dan Girardi and Anton Stralman, both of whom need new contracts after this season.
With salaries set to increase and the team interested in making roster moves this season and during the off-season, Richards' $6.667 million salary cap hit is a big chunk being eaten up.
Richards leads the team in goals (9) and points (23), but injuries to the likes of Rick Nash and Carl Hagelin has hindered the team's overall production.
The former Stanley Cup champion is focused on helping the Rangers make the playoffs and will deal with his future when the time comes.