Mike Richards: Worth The Pick-Up?

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Mike Richards is on waivers; good or bad idea, Arizona?

Mike Richards was once a highly coveted player in the NHL.

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  • The problem with long-term contracts is never more clear than when faced with a skater like Mike Richards; while he was certainly a six million AAV player in 2007, he’s far from it now. The risk/reward of decade-long contracts (of which Richards’ is even longer) is massive — and in this case, the worst-option scenario played out.

    The Los Angeles Kings are currently the ones stuck holding the hot potato at the end of the game; while the Philadelphia Flyers actually inked Mike Richards to his 12-year, $69 – million contract back in 2008, the Kings are the ones stuck trying to unload it.

    Doesn’t seem like they’re getting too many offers — so the franchise has placed the 29-year-old forward on waivers as of Monday morning.

    Should the Arizona Coyotes be interested?

    Here’s what you need to know about Mike Richards when considering whether he’s a valuable pickup:

    Age: 29
    Position: Center
    Salary (Cap Hit for 2014-2015 Season): $5.75 million AAV
    Contract Expiry: 2020
    Highest PPG/Season: 1.03 PPG (2007-2008 season)
    Current season stats: 47 GP (5G, 10A, 13:42 ATOI). Sustaining an 8.6 SH% and .32 PPG

    Based on this information, it’s fairly clear that the answer is… well, no.

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  • Were the cap hit for Richards different — or, better yet, were he a bought-out free agent — this would be a different story.

    Mike Ribeiro didn’t work out with the Arizona Coyotes for a number of on-and-off ice reasons, and he hadn’t really hit his stride with the Washington Capitals — but he’s doing just fine this season with the Nashville Predators, suggesting that atmosphere and player comfort really are a big deal. If Richards simply needs a change of scenery, he could probably reverse the decline in production that fans have witnessed over the last 2-4 years of his career.

    It’s unfortunate that he’s as expensive as he is, therefore; but pity over a player’s overhyped contract aren’t worth being saddled with it for the remained of his career, particularly for a team still doling out salary for a high-profile buyout and struggling with an underperforming (but top-dollar) goaltender.

    Rhys Jessop of Canucks Army put it best:

    The Arizona Coyotes should absolutely be looking to remain competitive in the interim without Max Domi, but the risk of picking up Mike Richards — particularly off of waivers — seems almost like a lose-lose.

    The reasoning? Easy — waivers make it pretty difficult for the team on the receiving end to dump the player again.

    According to the 2013 CBA, a player claimed off waivers can’t be placed back on waivers without the claiming team getting penalized — meaning that if the Coyotes pick up Mike Richards and he doesn’t work out, they’re stuck with him for a decent time period. Till 2020, to be precise — and if he doesn’t pull a Mike Ribeiro-esque turnaround, the team is stuck with his $5.75 million cap hit piling on top of Mike Smith‘s nearly $6 million cap hit for the forseeable future.

    (I think the moral of the story here is that the Coyotes need to stay away from any more players named Mike).

    Of course, if they think the Toronto Maple Leafs would be willing to trade him for Tyler Bozak for a slight salary reduction on Richard’s part, you CAN trade a player claimed off the waiver wire (see Mark Arcobello, re: the Nashville Predators)… and they should claim him to get a valid and reasonable return.

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