Brad Richards. Buh-rad. Ric-hards. Formerly one of the best players in the league, a two-time Stanley Cup Champion and a Conn Smythe winner, Richards came to the Wings largely because he’s a veteran and that’s what veterans do, or because he saw the chance to contribute in a roster that would pay him quite handsomely for his age.
Either way, Richards’ season was very much similar to many other Red Wings: not awful, but still quite far from spectacular.
Coming to the team, it was always clear that Richards was a guy that could push everything in the right direction and play in a top-six role. Seventh among Wings forwards in average ice time, he was pushed just a little outside of his usual role this year.
This was probably Richards’ worst offensive season since, uh, he was probably like, 4. Always a consistent NHL scorer, Richards didn’t quite put up the numbers he’s capable of- but at age 35, there’s a natural decline expected. It was just a little steeper than perhaps some expected when he signed the one-year deal.
+0.2 is a very, very marginal impact. He was on for 24 goals for and 25 against at even strength, with a relatively low on-ice shooting percentage. There’s not too much to read into here.
Richards drove possession in all the right ways this year, pushing the Wings’ numbers in the right direction. He wasn’t blowing anyone out of the water, but was slightly above average, and did have a noticeable enough impact at both ends of the ice.
Richards created just a little bit over a scoring chance a night individually (iSC) and similar to his possession numbers, he pushed play in the right direction, even if it wasn’t an extremely notable impact.
If Richards does come back, it’s likely to be for significantly less money. At a $4 million cap hit this past year, there’s definitely cheaper, better, and most importantly, younger options.
It’s hard to fault a player of Brad Richards’ age for playing as he did this season, and there wasn’t any glaring errors to his game, although he did look mostly like a shadow of his former self. But even if he was a competent enough option, he wasn’t exceptional and wasn’t exactly cheap either.
All in all, I think this grade was fair. Richards had not an abysmal season, but not an entirely great one, either.