It seemed as though there was no room for Brad Richardson on the Arizona Coyotes after they traded for Marcus Kruger and Alex Galchenyuk, but the team has nevertheless signed the veteran center to a two-year contract according to Craig Morgan of AZ Sports. The deal will carry an average annual value of $1.25MM.
Richardson, 33, is well liked in Arizona for his willingness to do whatever it takes on the ice and played a strong bottom-six center role for the team last season. With the expectation that young Dylan Strome makes the team full-time, there may need to be a switch for Richardson to the wing this season, something that shouldn’t really reduce his effectiveness as a checking option and penalty killer. He will still likely be asked to take a ton of faceoffs as he did a year ago, easily posting the best winning percentage among Arizona forwards at 52.1%. That’s actually slightly below his career average, and a number that even Kruger—also known for his defensive abilities—has failed to reach on many occasions.
For $1.25MM this deal presents very little risk for the Coyotes, who add a quality NHL player for a little more than what can be buried in the minor leagues. Though Arizona rarely flirts with the salary cap ceiling, they can certainly afford to pay one of their veteran leaders a little less than $1.5MM for the next couple of seasons. If Richardson could ever post another season like his 2015-16, in which he scored 11 goals and 31 points, his contract would look like an incredible bargain.