Brad Richards is one of several free agent forwards still available to sign. PHR ranked Richards #43 out of the top 50 available free agents. Richards inked a one-year, $3MM deal with the Detroit Red Wings for the 2015-16 season. While the deal looked good on paper, Richards and the Red Wings never really worked together. Instead, Richards noted that “the season didn’t go the way I wanted it to or the team wanted it to.”
Richards lack of production didn’t help matters, as he recorded 28 points (10-18), hardly what the Wings expected. It was the second consecutive season of declining performance for Richards, who acknowledged that after playing for three teams in three seasons, he would have to “recharge his batteries” before making his next move.
This is where it gets dicey. As the free agent market dries out and younger forwards like Jiri Hudler or Kris Versteeg haven’t be re-signed, Richards doesn’t look to have a lot of suitors lining up. That isn’t to say he couldn’t produce for the right team. Richards failure with the Red Wings was two sided; Richards didn’t fit the system as well as he did in Chicago and the Red Wings are more of a team in transition than a contender. Richards would be best suited on a team making a run for the Cup. Los Angeles is one potential fit if he’d agree to a cheaper deal, but their lack of cap room would make it difficult. The St. Louis Blues could also be another option. The New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres could add him for depth at a discounted price; the Sabres could also benefit greatly by adding his leadership. Finally, if he was really looking for another Cup and willing to take a significant pay cut, the Chicago Blackhawks could be an ideal fit. Stan Bowman is creative enough to make an interesting and cap friendly pitch.
PHR guessed that Richards would fetch a one-year, $2MM deal from the Colorado Avalanche. As the summer drags on and a deal doesn’t happen, don’t be surprised if Richards seriously considers retirement. Richards mentioned how the retirement of Vincent Lecavalier causes retirement to “creep into your mind.” After winning two Cups, most recently with Chicago in 2015, odds on Richards hanging up his skates might not be too far off.
If Richards is offered a deal, expect it to be something between $1.5MM and $2MM. With declining production, any team looking for a depth move probably wouldn’t offer much more.