With minimal cap space, the Canucks couldn’t afford to spend big in free agency, even on depth players. When the price got too high for centre options like Boyd Gordon and Matt Cullen, it began to look like the Canucks wouldn’t sign anyone to fill the gap at centre on the third or fourth line.
Instead, the Canucks found a player in the bargain bin, signing centre Brad Richardson to a 2-year deal worth $1.15 million per season.
The 28-year-old spent the last five seasons with the Los Angeles Kings, winning a Cup there in 2012. In his first season in LA, he scored 27 points in 81 games, but he has bounced in and out of the lineup since, playing just 16 games with the team in 2012-13. To be fair, most of those games came towards the end of the season: once Richardson got into the lineup, he made it difficult for Darryl Sutter to take him out.
Combined with the signing of Yannick “Not Shea” Weber and the drafting of Jordan “Not PK” Subban, Brad “Not Richards” Richardson demonstrates the Dollar Store mentality of the Canucks this year, picking up off-brand knockoffs of better players.
That said, Richardson is a good pickup for the Canucks, as he can battle with the Canucks’ young prospects like Brendan Gaunce, Kellan Lain, Bo Horvat, and Jordan Schroeder for a job at training camp and bridge the gap if those prospects are not quite ready yet.
At the AHL level, Richardson is a point-per-game guy, who has struggled to stay in the lineup in the NHL. When he has played, however, he’s been effective, scoring 14 goals in a depth role with the Colorado Avalanche in 2006-07, and posting reasonable puck possession numbers while playing limited minutes.
Richardson hasn’t been much of a faceoff man in his time in the NHL and has played frequently on the wing. That versatility will be helpful if the Canucks feel that more of their prospects are ready to start the season with the team. Essentially, Richardson slots in as the fourth line centre, but can slide over to the wing, and maybe step up onto the third line.
Given his versatility and the reasonable cap hit, this signing earns a rating of “Pretty Okay.”Tags: Brad Richardson, Free Agent Frenzy