Kukla's Korner Hockey

Kukla's Korner Hockey

What To Do With Mike Richards

01/27/2015 at 10:02am EST

from Scott Cullen of TSN,

He still has positive possession numbers but, given how well the Kings fare without him on the ice, Richards is practically being dragged to respectable shot differentials. While in previous seasons he at least faced a reasonable level of competition, Richards has continued his descent this year while facing relatively-soft competition.

There may be an argument to make that a motivated Richards could still be a useful contributor, but his contract is going to make it challenging to find a new opportunity.

After this season, Richards still has five years remaining on his deal, at a cap hit of $5.75-million per season, a big ticket for an underperforming player. The easiest way for the Kings to rid themselves of that contract would have been to use a compliance buyout on Richards last summer, but it's hard to ante up $20-million for a player not to play on your team.

Difficult as it may have been, the decision not to buy out Richards then leaves the Kings in a tight spot now. They don't get much cap relief ($925,000) by putting him in the AHL, and while that has value to a team jammed against the salary cap, it doesn't clear the decks in the way that it would have under the previous collective bargaining agreement, when Wade Redden, among others, got buried in the AHL with a big NHL salary.

The hope for the Kings has to be to find a trade for Richards, but that's going to require some creativity. It may require eating up to half of Richards' salary, taking on a bad contract from another team, or both.

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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