Mike Richards on waivers, should the Jets be interested?

This afternoon the Los Angeles Kings placed centre, Mike Richards on waivers in an attempt to move his hefty contract to free up some room on the team’s salary cap. 

The Kings currently sit 2.9 million dollars below the cap and moving a contract like Richards would free up enough space for the team to go and acquire some much needed defence. Ever since Slava Voynov’s indefinite suspension, LA’s defence has been vulnerable without maybe their second best rearguard, and it’s only going to remain that way until they bring in another top-4 guy to replace him, because I do not see Voynov returning to the NHL anytime soon.

But I don’t want this story to be about the Kings’ struggles this season. I want it to be about what Mike Richards can bring to a Winnipeg Jets team that is making it’s strongest push for the postseason since the team moved from Atlanta in 2011.

Should the Jets make a claim on the “former” Kings forward, I believe he can bring a lot of different skills to the Winnipeg franchise, despite his lengthy (five remaining seasons) and somewhat expensive ($5.75 million) contract.

1. Experience

Richards would bring a wealth of experience to the Jets, should they acquire his contract. Aside from playing in the league since the 2005-06 season with the Kings and the Philadelphia Flyers, the soon-to-be 30-year-old has played in the postseason in all but one of his seasons, that being during the 2006-07 season. Richards has played in 124 playoff games and has accumulated 87 points (26g, 61a) in the post season. Richards longevity in the league would prove most valuable to a team looking to make the playoffs this season.

2. Winning Pedigree

Before he ever touched an NHL ice, Richards had already won three major championships, the Memorial Cup in 2003 with the Kitchener Rangers, a World Junior Championship gold medal in 2005, and the Calder Cup with the Flyers’ AHL affiliate, the Philadelphia Phantoms, also in 2005. Since moving up to the NHL level, Richards has won an Olympic gold medal in 201, and has won two Stanley Cups with the Kings in 2012 and 2014. Thats a lot of championships won, he has proven he can play in important games, and knows whats required to win it all. 

3. Leadership

In his playing career, Richards has served as a captain for many years including two years in Kitchener and three years in Philadelphia. He was also the captain of Canada’s 2005 World Junior Championship squad, which has been often called the best team in tournament history. H had also served as an alternate captain for Kitchener, the Flyers and the Kings in his career. He knows how to be a leader and I’m sure he wouldn’t require a letter to utilize his leadership on and off the ice for the Jets.

4. Versatility

Richards has proven that he can play both centre and the wing in his career, mostly focusing on centre where he has proven to be a solid-two way player who is strong on the face-off dot and could kill penalties or play on the power play. While playing with Canada in the 2010 Olympics, Richards played exclusively on the wing due to the fact that Canada was so deep up the middle. In his last season with LA, Richards played both centre and on the wing, but was able to move up to a higher line when he played on the wing. But the former first-round pick has proven that he is willing and able to play on any line in any position. He would be a great depth addition for the Jets

Sure Richards production has dropped off in recent years, he hasn’t scored more than 20 goals since moving to LA, and has just 15 points so far this season, but how much of that is because of the King’s depth? He may be viewed as damaged goods, whose best days are behind him, but I believe Mike Richards may still have some gas left in the tank and could be a great claim by any team in the league. Even with five years remaining on his huge contract.