Why Mike Richards makes sense for the Jets, but like, as a Jim Slater upgrade

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Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Kings are buying out Mike Richards, which means he’s now available to anyone as an unrestricted free agent.

Almost exactly a year ago, when there was discussion on the Kings using their compliance buyout on Richards, there were many discussing whether or not the Winnipeg Jets should sign Richards if he shook loose . He is from Kenora, On. after all and has both friends and family in Winnipeg. At the right price, Richards may be a plausible addition.


I responded with a resounding no, when there were others saying Richards would likely cost about 4 million in AAV.

Has anything changed? Read on past the jump.

Of course, Richards’ perceived value has depreciated severely despite his true value being relatively similar to the previous two seasons. 

Let’s take a look if Richards is worth a contract from the Jets.

The Winnipeg Jets have three pretty good and young centres in Bryan Little, Mark Scheifele and Adam Lowry. They also have Mathieu Perreault, a winger who can and has played centre with exceptional success. There is also the possibility of Alexander Burmistrov making a return, another legitimate top nine player who can play both centre and wing.

There is an available spot centre spot on the fourth line. With Jim Slater currently looking at free agency and no indications of the Jets in conversation with extending the centre, the Jets could use an upgrade at centre.

The Basics

MikeRichards1

All numbers are from WAR-on-Ice and are for 2011-15

While both players have scored goals at comparable rates, Richards has out performed Slater in assists. Overall, Slater’s point production is about average for a fourth line player, while Richards sits in between third and fourth line average.

There could be some concern though that Richards’ even strength scoring would drop to Slater’s level without playing with stronger wingers linemates like he did in Los Angeles.

One area though Richards does perform exceptionally better in is with penalty differentials. Richards has a knack for drawing more penalties than he’s called for, which is something the Jets could definitely use more of on the fourth line.

Shot Metrics

MikeRichards2

All numbers are from WAR-on-Ice and are for 2011-15

Richards carries a stronger Corsi percentage and Scoring Chance percentage, as would be expected of someone who played top six minutes in one of the stronger shot metric teams in the league. The relative numbers (team performance with player on ice versus on the bench) though indicates the distance in talent level between the two is closer than the raw differentials.

In fact, Richard’s dCorsi numbers are lower than Slater. This suggests that Richards under performed his usage by a relatively larger amount than Slater. Now, this does not mean that Richards would carry a worse or even similar Corsi, but it is well within the possible.

Additional Value

MikeRichards3

All numbers are from WAR-on-Ice and are for 2011-15

The truth is even strength numbers only carry so much weight for depth players. Fourth or pressbox forwards play a very small share of ice time, and the bit that they do tends to be in low impact situations (ex: leading by 2 or more goals, not the end of a period, etc.).

Because of these factors, the impact a fourth line has on the team’s wins is far lower than those higher up in the depth charts.

A great way to optimize the roster is to fill the fourth line with players who provide additional value elsewhere.

While Richards only provides a marginal improvement in even strength situations, he has exceedingly out performed Slater on special teams. Richards has been a pretty decent point scorer on the power play and would be a strong enough forward for the Jets second unit. He also is a depth forward that actually performs suitably on the penalty kill with strong numbers there as well.

Final Thoughts

While Richards is no longer a top six performer, he could be a depth option allowing the Jets to fill out a fourth line that could not only take other teams fourth lines, but also provide additional value outside of even strength minutes.

Richards seems like a significant upgrade on Jim Slater, although that does not say much with Slater being one of the worst performing centres in the entire NHL. 

At the right price and the right role, Richards could give the Jets acceptable value.

  • Jets owl

    Signing Richards would be cool in a Jays signing Jeff Francis / Chien Ming Wang kind of way. If they somehow rediscover some of their former glory it’s a nice move.

    If we’re just signing a league average 4C (more likely) I’ll cross my fingers for a hometown discount or for “Stanley Cup pedigree” to actually be a thing.

  • Robert Cleave

    I suspect events since this was published have rendered this post moot, but even before, I would have said no thanks, and no more than 1 x 1.5 at the most if they did go there. He’s lost the step he couldn’t afford to lose, and his apparent unwillingness to keep his conditioning up doesn’t seem to match the go-go style Mo wants.

  • Jets owl

    On yesterday’s MvsW the termination of the contract news broke and Marek’s reaction suggested there were some pretty nasty rumors going around. One quote was something like “You might want to hold off on the ‘Mike Richards would look good in this team’s jersey stories’.”

    Story took an interesting twist to say the least.

  • Jets owl

    Your an idiot-comic book writer at best.

    Slater never got his due-way more defensively
    sound then Lowry-all Lowry had was the last name
    and like so many others with a last name of a former
    NHL dad who themselves would be hard pressed to make
    a roster in todays NHL with Euro this and Russian
    that-whereas Slater never protested in his diminished
    role-relegated to PK and when he made a mistake he paid for it whereas with Ladd coughing the puck up in his own end turnover after turnover? put right back out…stupid penalty in the playoffs costing us a game vs Anaheim? Put right back out there…the list goes on-how many Byfuglien turnovers and mistakes in this years playoffs do you want to talk about?

    Second in the NHL in the face off circle last year to only Bruins Bergeron?

    And they laud about Manny Maholtra in the faceoff circle and he finds work with one eye?

    Like I said…your an idiot.

    Longest serving member of the organization and did work in the community whereas some of the other Jets can’t wait to get on a plane and get out the city once the season ends?

    And Carter has issues-there is an off ice issue related to why the Kings let him go.

    Does it have anything to do with nose candy?

    Did I say you were an idiot?

    SS