Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Mike Richards Swatch Card

I know, I posted about Mike Richards twice last summer, defending the Los Angeles Kings for keeping him despite his long-term, high-cap-hit contract because he's a proven winner and captain at all levels (even internationally), and has developed into a dependable two-way player who will always keep his hockey sense even when he's not put in a position to succeed offensively.

Which he wasn't, stuck behind Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter on the Kings' depth chart, and head coach Darryl Sutter refusing to put him on the wing on either of the top two lines despite injuries.

But his $5.75M cap hit (though his actual salary is decreasing from now on) for five more years make his 40-point production seem expensive, until you look closer and see he's playing with fourth-liners and rarely has advantageous offensive-zone starts.

Plus, with the cap increasing even just by $3M per year (and moreso if it goes up by more), he'll quickly be deemed ''very affordable'' even if he remains in that point range, as can be attested by the following players making over $4M and producing half a point per game:
Milan Lucic (6): 25 points in 47 games.
Jaromir Jagr (5.5): 25 points in 43 games.
Eric Staal (8.25): 28 points in 41 games.
Shane Doan (5.3): 25 points in 44 games.
Alexander Semin (7): 8 points in 26 games.
Jeff Skinner (5.75): 19 points in 41 games.
Shawn Horcoff (5.5): 17 points in 42 games.
Travis Zajac (5.75): 16 points in 39 games.
Patrik Elias (5.5): 20 points in 37 games.
David Jones (4): 15 points in 34 games.
Tyler Ennis (4.6): 28 points in 47 games.
Ryan O’Reilly (6): 26 points in 48 games.
Gabriel Landeskog (5.57): 28 points in 48 games.
Matt Duchene (6): 29 points in 48 games.
Martin Erat (4.5): 19 points in 44 games.
Matt Moulson (5): 20 points in 44 games.
Brian Gionta (4.25): 11 points in 34 games.
Drew Stafford (4): 22 points in 42 games.
Chris Stewart (4.15): 15 points in 45 games.
Brad Marchand (4.5): 25 points in 43 games.
Loui Eriksson (4.25): 29 points in 47 games.
Ryan Kesler (5): 30 points in 47 games.
Bryan Bickell (4): 21 points in 47 games.
Erik Cole (4.5): 23 points in 44 games.
Ales Hemsky (4): 18 points in 43 games.
Stephen Weiss (4.9): 14 points in 24 games.
Taylor Hall (6): 29 points in 41 games.
Jordan Eberle (6): 29 points in 46 games.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (6): 29 points in 45 games.
Teddy Purcell (4.5): 20 points in 47 games.
Benoit Pouliot (4): 16 points in 29 games.
Dave Bolland (5.5): 9 points in 23 games.
Tomas Fleischmann (4.5): 13 points in 38 games.
Jussi Jokinen (4): 24 points in 43 games.
Dustin Brown (5.88): 19 points in 47 games.
Mikko Koivu (6.75): 26 points in 46 games.
P-A Parenteau (4): 15 points in 40 games.
Ryan Clowe (4.85): 4 points in 13 games.
Mikhail Grabovski (5): 14 points in 38 games.
Nikolai Kulemin (4.2): 20 points in 46 games.
Milan Michalek (4): 15 points in 42 games.
R.J. Umberger (4.6): 12 points in 48 games.
Joffrey Lupul (5.25): 17 points in 26 games.
David Clarkson (5.25): 14 points in 48 games.
Brooks Laich (4.5): 11 points in 31 games.
Evander Kane (5.25): 19 points in 33 games.
Don't get me wrong - I like a lot of those players, and would take them (those I like) on my team any day, with the same salary. I'm just saying: a case can be made for Richards. Despite his slowing down. And that for many teams not playing in Pittsburgh, Dallas or Los Angeles, he's probably still a better player than whoever they have centering their second line this week. Maybe even the first line, if you're the Toronto Maple Leafs.

So I think he'll report to the Manchester Monarchs just long enough for one team's accountant to make a deal smooth enough on both sides for salary to go each way, and perhaps a defenseman going L.A.'s way. His playing in the AHL will still eat some $4.5M on the Kings' cap, but having that free $900K will allow them to dress a defenseman for every game until the Slava Voynov situation is settled; that has been the Kings' true problem this year, losing their #2 or #3 defenseman and yet having his salary still count against the cap for the time before he was formally tried for domestic abuse. Had that not been an issue, GM Dean Lombardi probably would have kept him on the roster and tried to get his game going again.

So, barring an injury to another one of their top centers, chances are you won't be seeing pictures like this one soon, wearing the Kings' white (away) uniform:
It's card #47 from Panini's 2011-12 Titanium set (part of the Game-Worn Gear sub-set), featuring a large white jersey swatch.

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