Due to ownership issues that won’t likely be resolved until August or even later, the Dallas Stars have announced that they will not offer forward Brad Richards a contract extension, which means that the 31-year-old will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
At this point, the only reason Richards would not reach free-agency would be that he is willing to waive his no-movement clause, get his rights traded and sign a new contract with that team before July 1.
So, what does this mean for the Los Angeles Kings? The announcement doesn’t affect the Kings directly, however Richards’ name has been linked to Los Angeles a few times already when there was discussion about a possible move, whether it would be via trade or free agency.
The pride and joy of Murray Harbour, Prince Edward Island is coming off an impressive campaign where he scored 28 goals and 49 assists for 77 points in 72 games as the Dallas Stars narrowly missed the playoffs on the final day of the regular season.
Pierre McGuire of TSN repeatedly suggested that Richards “is going to Manhattan” insinuating that Richards will be signing with the New York Rangers next month. With that said and judging McGuire’s knowledge of the NHL and the sport of hockey as a whole, look for Brad Richards to sign anywhere but in the Big Apple.
It is believed that at least five teams are very interested in Richards’ services and, although none of the teams have been indicated, it is to fair to assume that the Los Angeles Kings are one of those teams. Of course, that is up to general manager Dean Lombardi and if last summer was any indication, I wouldn’t be too inclined to hold my breath for any “Richards is coming to LA” announcement on or soon following July 1.
Of course, I can’t tell Dean Lombardi what to do but if the Kings need anything, it’s another center and they’d have that with Richards. On the flipside, though, Richards will be asking for a lot of money so it’s really a question of whether it’s worth taking a cap hit or not. If the Kings let Michal Handzus walk, wouldn’t Brad Richards be an ideal replacement? With all due respect to Handzus, Richards would surely be an upgrade for the Kings at the center position. At 50.6%, Richards wasn’t quite as good as Handzus was in 2010-11 (51.7%) and with only twenty hits registered this past season, it’s safe to say that he’s not the most physical presence on the ice but Richard’s game does possess the speed and finesse this Kings team could use.
If Lombardi wants to save his money and keep building with his prospects, that’s his prerogative. However, Lombardi and company have been rebuilding for the last five years, which means that they’re plan has expired. It’s no longer the goal to win in three or four years. The Kings have to win now and a player of Brad Richard’s magnitude could be just what this team needs.
Brad Richards does own a Stanley Cup ring and a Conn Smythe win as the Most Valuable Player of the Stanley Cup playoffs, both of which he earned in 2004 as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Those accolades would be a welcome addition to the Kings but only time will tell as to whether the notion of Brad Richards coming to Los Angeles will be a reality.