The playoffs are going to be a very important time for Mike Richards. Aside from the obvious opportunity to win the Cup, it’s looking like Richards’ future with the Los Angeles Kings may be directly linked with how well he performs in the playoffs.
Mike Richards lineup move indicator of increasing chatter he must return to form in playoffs to secure long term future in LA(trade/buyout)
— Dennis Bernstein (@DennisTFP) March 21, 2014
Richards is currently in the sixth year of a massive 12-year, $69 million contract. Richards received the deal with the Philadelphia Flyers, but the Flyers dealt him to the Kings in 2011. Since arriving in LA, Richards has been up and down in terms of offensive consistency. He scored 18 goals and 44 points in 74 games in 2011-12 and then chipped in 12 goals and 32 total points during the 48-game abbreviated season in 2012-13. Things haven’t gone quite as well in 2013-14 as Richards has just nine goals and 39 points in 70 games.
Richards’ numbers aren’t horrible, but they’re probably not worthy of a $5.75 million cap hit. If he’s not able to elevate his game when LA needs him most, the club may be forced to shop him or buy out his contract.
Would anyone be interested in Richards? That’s difficult to predict. The salary cap will be going up over the next few years which would make his contract easier to absorb. It’s pretty difficult to imagine LA would be satisfied in just eating his contract and not receiving anything in return. At 29, Richards still has plenty of time left in his career and could easily turn things around.
As if you needed another reason to follow the NHL playoffs, Richards’ future may be riding on a strong effort and a deep Cup run.