Hockey writer Dhiren Mahiban tweeted today that Mike Richards still wants to play in the NHL, but may also look to Europe if nothing materializes. Richards last played for the Washington Capitals last season but could not find any takers in the offseason for a 2016-17 contract.
Richards finished last season with 2G and 3A in 39 games for the Capitals. He averaged just over 12 minutes a game—a career low for the veteran forward. The former Philadelphia Flyer’s production dropped dramatically in his last three seasons, scoring 41 points in 2013-14, 16 points in 2014-15, and 5 points last season as mentioned above.
Richards joined the Capitals after having his contract terminated by the Los Angeles Kings in 2015. The Kings stated that Richards breached his contract when he was charged for possession of Oxycodone after crossing into Canada from the United States. The NHLPA filed a grievance, and the two sides eventually reached a settlement that pays Richards $10.2MM over 17 years until 2031-32, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. The Kings benefitted because the small settlement payments are less than the cap hit would have been had the team bought out Richards. The RCMP eventually dropped all charges.
Richards is only 31, and could model a comeback from the Kings’ Devin Setoguchi. Setoguchi battled substance abuse during his NHL career before entering rehab. He is not lighting up the scoreboards, but his 4G and 5A in 34 games signals potential to be a 3rd or 4th line energy player. Richards can also look to Sam Gagner and his resurgent season with the Columbus Blue Jackets this season as inspiration. Most thought Gagner was done following a slew of disappointing campaigns, but the former Edmonton Oiler now has 14G and 16A in 38 games on a one-year, $650K contract.