Should the Rich Get Richards?

According to Elliotte Friedman, the Los Angeles Kings have decided that they would like to trade centre Mike Richards, if possible. Furthermore, the Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the teams that they’ve approached. The Leafs are often rumoured to be looking for a high-end centre, so he this a good option to fill that void?

The Case For Richards

The man wins everything. No, but seriously, he’s got a trophy cabinet that’s probably fuller than several NHL forward cores. RIchards has won a Memorial Cup (2004 with Kitchener, under the eye of Leafs assistant coach Steve Spott), a Calder Cup (2005 with Philadelphia), and two Stanley Cups (Los Angeles in 2012, 2014; the former with Jonathan Bernier). Internationally, he has both World Junior Gold (2005, with Dion Phaneuf), and Olympic Gold (coached by Leafs blatant tampering target Mike Babcock). No other player in the history of the National Hockey League has won more different types of team-based trophies that anybody cares about.

Richards also captained the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers roster to the Stanley Cup Finals. He didn’t win, but hey, he wore the C. Also, they eliminated the Habs, which as Leafs fans would know, is more important than winning the Stanley Cup.

The Case Against Richards

I’m going to show you a neat tables.

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Player X is Mike Richards. Player Y is…. David Clarkson. With the exception of Richards’ one huge year in Philadelphia, and Clarkson’s mind numbingly awful first year in Toronto, the two have produced at similar clips, even at times where their sticks were on opposite ends of the luck chip. Clarkson’s relative possession numbers have also been better than Richards’ for half a decade now.

With that said, I’m not about to say that David Clarkson is a better player than Mike Richards. Richards has also spent his entire career other than this year being deployed against tougher competition than the oft-falling Mimico native. 

Why Does It Matter Then?

Because the difference between the two is not night-and-day significant. It’s not even dawn and afternoon significant anymore. Now, consider that Mike Richards makes $500,000 more than David Clarkson for only a year shorter of a term.

If David Clarkson is considered by many to be an unmitigated disaster and his contract is often considered the worst ever signed by the Toronto Maple Leafs, what does this make Richards? He’s still a pretty good player, but with his contract attached, he has negative asset value. If anything, the only player I would even consider trading for him in the Leafs organization is David Clarkson. Otherwise, you’re stuck with two long-term boat anchor contracts for a player who is definitely not better than Nazem Kadri and, at this point, is most likely a step behind Tyler Bozak as well.

I’m forever curious as to why Dean Lombardi did not use his compliance buyout on Richards this summer. He’d be a bad contract to have on a team with little depth, let alone one with the depth that the Kings have. The Leafs should stay away at all costs, unless they get severe contract dumping leverage, which given Los Angeles’ ambitions to make some room, would be next to impossible.

  • STAN

    The ultimate conclusion that only a Clarkson-for-Richards swap makes sense for the Leafs is bang on.

    Still, it would be much better if they could send him to a team with lots of cap space for a pick. Troy friggin’ Bodie is far better than Clarkson, as are about 18 other Leafs skaters, not to mention another handful with the Marlies..

    • Benjamin

      I agree, it’d be great if the Leafs could swap Clarkson for a pick. But it’s not realistic.

      As Jeff said, Clarkson and Richards are, unfortunately, negative assets due to their contracts. Because of the cap hit and term they carry, they actively hurt their team’s competitiveness. I hate how important a player’s contract has become when discussing their value but it’s the world we live in.

      So flipping Clarkson for anything positive, even something as insignificantly positive as a 7th rounder, just won’t happen.

  • Benjamin

    Clarkson (winger) for Richards (center) makes sense because it helps the out the leafs poor centre depth which is taxed when it faces injures and with having a dog like Bozak as your 1C. Richards is not a 1C either but that for me is the reason to make this or another trade for a center.

    I’m not sure if he or Holland would fit on the 4th line or if Richards makes Bozak a more tradeable piece. But that part has to be worked out by the coach

  • Poluza

    Richards is definitely not the kind of player that the Leafs need to add to their team.

    With his contract, he would be added to the “core” group of players that Shanahan is putting together for a contender. But he would be foolish to do so.

    A center with a history of winning, average speed, slightly above average playmaking ability, and a bad contract?

    Richards would be the new Dave Bolland (shudders)

  • I love Mike Richards, I though he won 2003 and 2004 mem cup, one behind Derek Roy and then one without. He can actually play up and down the line up and can kill penalties. He gives the Leafs real reliable depth. But I think that roster spot should be occupied by Peter Holland.

  • jasken

    This would just all around be a bad idea. Given his history and influence he might have on this young team, it’s basically looking to disturb a hornets nest and expect them not to come out.