36-Year-Old Center – Free Agent
Brad Richards Contract Information:
Signed a one-year, $3 million contract with the Red Wings in July 2015. Deal includes an incentive bonus that could escalate contract to $4 million.
Richards will retire from the NHL after a 15-year career that included two Stanley Cup championships.
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
There was no outlook written for Brad Richards.
Richards joins the Red Wings after winning his second career Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2014-15. As the Blackhawks' second-line center next to Patrick Kane, the 35-year-old notched 12 goals and 37 points in 76 regular-season games with Chicago, before adding three goals and 14 points in 23 postseason games. While Richards is no longer the perennial 90-point threat he once was, the crafty playmaker remains a functional top-six forward who can make things happen on the power play. Even though his production is on the decline, Richards could stand to notice an uptick from the 14:53 of ice time he saw in Chicago last season, as the Red Wings are expected to be without top pivot Pavel Datsyuk (ankle) for the first few weeks of the season. Richards would seem to be a fine short-term replacement on the first line, where he could receive an extended opportunity to set up skilled finishers in Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist. Once Datsyuk returns, Richards would likely see his minutes and scoring output tail off a bit, but a continued role on the team's man-advantage units shouldn't result in too significant of a decline.
Could Richie be the answer as the Blackhawks' second-line center? Richards was bought out by the Rangers after the season and promptly signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Hawks. Sure, that's an easy decision when he’ll still make $51 million off his Rangers deal. But it's clear he wants another Cup. His presence should help Chicago balance their scoring, and he could end up skating with Patrick Kane...that is, if his gradually-slowing wheels can keep pace. If so, he could easily top last year's production of 20 goals and 31 assists.
Forgetting the media frenzy around the 33-year-old's disappointing season, the veteran center still mustered 11 goals (34 points) and a plus-8 in 46 regular season games, good for third in team scoring. Nonetheless, having spent most of the lockout shortened season in John Tortorella's doghouse, no one is happier to see new head coach Alain Vigneault than Brad Richards. Richards' new personal trainer, the highly regarded Ben Prentiss of Integrated Exercise Therapy (who also trains Martin St. Louis, Max Pacioretty and Jonathon Quick) sees reason for optimism. Prentiss was quoted as saying, 'Richards has changed his diet and has been highly motivated this summer. The Rangers were wise not to buy him out because he expects Richards to have a big season.' It's entirely possible Richards will slip into the middle rounds of your draft. If so, he could provide you with tier 1 scoring at a tier 2 price. Although, most owners are expecting a low-risk, high reward circumstance, so the draft results are likely to vary depending on your format.
Last season's huge free-agent acquisition had an up-and-down first year in New York, but he managed to piece together a solid season with 25 goals and 41 assists. The 32-year-old shoud feel more comfortable as he enters his second year with the Rangers and will likely improve upon last season's totals as he likely will center a line with newcomer, Rick Nash. Richards was probably taken a little too high in fantasy drafts last year, but savvy owners should be able to parlay his shaky 2011-12 season into solid value in their 2012-13 drafts.
Richards averaged 71 points over the span of a decade between Tampa Bay and most recently, Dallas. Now, he's in the big market of New York, and all signs point to his continued high level of production. Richards fills a clear need as the No. 1 center and finds himself in an ideal situation with sniper Marian Gaborik on his side. The only cautionary measure to consider with Richards is that he's had concussion issues before. However, he's had no recent problems and should be targeted early on in fantasy drafts.
Richards racked up 91 points (24G, 67A), including massive totals (13G, 27A) on the power play. He recorded big minutes as Dallas' No. 1 center, increasing his ice time as the season wore on with the struggles from Mike Ribeiro. He's a liability in his own end, so knock off a bit of value if your league rewards plus/minus and/or penalty minutes, but he's an elite fantasy scorer when healthy, and should enjoy another productive season on Dallas' top line.
A pair of wrist injuries ended Richards' season way too early, but he was productive (16 G, 48 points in 56 games) when healthy. He gives Dallas excellent scoring depth down the middle with Mike Ribeiro, and will be a fixture on Dallas' top power play unit. There's a big season here, approacing his halycon days with Tampa Bay.
Richards started to re-emerge after being dealt to Dallas, though finding him a pair of scoring wingers remains a priority. Mike Modano may be shifted to a wing to play alongside Richards, but Richards' ample power play time should result in a return to form no matter his linemates. He's a good bet to approach 80 points.
Richards took one for the team last season and didn't complain. Coach John Tortorella moved Marty St. Louis up to Vinny Lecavalier's line and both of those men had career years. Richards, on the other hand, carried the weight of his massive new contract like a concrete block around his neck and he ended up with the first big step backwards of his career. He'll rebound this year but his production will be limited by the lead weights who skate on his wings. The Bolts just don't have the cap room to buy themselves a real talent for that spot, so Richie will have to settle for re-treads like Jan Hlavac and Michel Ouellet. The only saving grace lies with Ouellet, with whom Richards clicked during his junior days. Richards will once again play in all situations and deliver on the power play; time will tell if he can also pot lots at even strength.
We have long maintained it is Richards, and not the slick Lecavalier, who is the Bolts' best player … and last year he proved it. He led the team in scoring for the third time in five seasons and set a team record with 68 assists. His 91 points was a career best and it earned him a five-year, $39 million contract. While we sometimes worry about players resting on their laurels a bit after signing big deals, we know this won't be the case with Richie -- he's a humble and hard-working player who will never sit back for the ride. Richards is a top-10 fantasy player whose value rises even further in leagues that count power-play points. And in head-to-head leagues, this guy is pure gold as there are few players who can match his overall consistency.
Raise your hand if you've ever heard of or remember Alex "Fats" Delvecchio of the historic Detroit Red Wings? Richards is this generation's Delvecchio, a franchise player toiling behind a more heralded teammate (Fats was second to you guessed it, a guy named Gordie Howe). While he has a lot of years to go to prove he belongs in the same class as Hall-of-Famer Delvecchio, Richards is the kind of guy who might just do it. He's a gifted playmaker who is on the verge of a 90-point season, and who knows, this might be the year he does it.