The compliance buyout window opens today, and one of the most intriguing names is that of Los Angeles Kings centre Mike Richards.
Richards has 6 years remaining on his contract at a cap hit of $5.75M per season. It was originally a 12 year, $69M contract. The good thing is that it does not include a not trade clause, like every L.A. Kings contract.
While it might be appealing to wait for Richards to get bought out, as the rumors suggest he will, and roll the dice on getting him for a better cap hit, the time to strike is now for the Ottawa Senators.
Richards, although relegated to 3rd or 4th line duty on the Stanley Cup Champion Kings, still has a lot of hockey left and he is the exact type of guy the Senators need, especially if they are going to deal Jason Spezza. The depth up the middle for the Kings was insane, probably the best unit of centremen top to bottom in the league. Richards would instantly slide into the 2nd line spot and gives a competitive spirit the Senators haven’t had since Mike Fisher, and he is a more talented offensive player than Fisher ever was.
Richards is one of the few players in the league I would bring in and instantly name the captain. If I am Bryan Murray I am on the phone to Dean Lombardi yesterday to inquire about Richards. It would save the Kings from writing $19M in cheques over the next 12 years, so the asking price would not be too high for a player the Kings were going to cut anyway, and it would save them $20M.
The Senators will not be a cap team any time soon, so the dwindling “actual salary” column benefits them because they can easily absorb the cap hit. All this while bringing a much needed player into the fold that would somewhat soften the blow when the Spezza deal finally goes down.
Richards has been to the Finals 3 times, won 2 Cups and has been on teams that have overcome 3-0 deficits twice in his career. He had his trials and tribulations as a young player in Philadelphia and was probably named captain too early in his career, but he has matured since then.
In a city that loves their hard-working, blue collar players and loathes ultra-skilled players who they perceive do not give full effort at all times, Richards would be a godsend
Would the Senators win a bid for Richards on the open market? Probably not. But there is a short window open, starting this morning, for the Senators to make a positive step forward.
Get on it, Bryan. Interrupt the parade if you need to and get Mike Richards in a Senators uniform. Now.