One of the hottest names on the market right now is Mike Richards. The two-time Stanley Cup champ who has endured down seasons each of the last four years – but has performed well in the playoffs – was finally placed on waivers earlier in the week after weeks of speculation.
Immediately following the news of his impending demotion there were a few teams rumoured to be interested – the Toronto Maple Leafs (no surprise) and, perhaps more surprisingly, the Calgary Flames. A young team with very little winning experience up front, the Flames could benefit from taking on Richards.
Coming from the Los Angeles Kings – a perennial winner – would allow Richards to bring to the Flames a wealth of knowledge from a team that knows how to win. And, at just 29 years old, Richards has amassed 10 years of NHL experience to his name and still has the potential to be an effective player for another few seasons at least.
But question isn’t so much about what can Richards bring to the Flames; rather, the question is do they even need him?
To this point in the season Calgary has more than exceeded expectations – call it a fluke or a never-say-die attitude – so some veteran experience couldn’t hurt right? But the Flames already have a veteran presence in Jiri Hudler and Curtis Glencross, among others. Plus, with numerous players 25 years of age or under (Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, etc.), there’s no point in disrupting the youth movement.
Then there’s the financial aspect of the acquisition. Richards takes a cap hit of $5.75 million, and for the production he provides that’s a pretty expensive experiment to take on. Unless he proves he can produce as a top-six player in the NHL once again, which he obviously won’t get the opportunity to do with the Manchester Monarchs, the risk isn’t worth the reward.
No, though it may not be the most popular move, the Flames should stay the course – at least for now. What to do at the trade deadline is a discussion for another day, but at the moment the Flames are doing just fine.