Chicago Blackhawks v Los Angeles Kings - Game Three

Mike Richards, buyout candidate?


We’ve already written plenty on the possibility of the Rangers using a compliance buyout on Brad Richards this summer. Turns out there’s another veteran center with the last name Richards — also on a team still very much alive in these playoffs — who’s garnering some buyout buzz.

From the Globe and Mail’s

Here’s a question that Kings’ general manager Dean Lombardi will need to answer this off-season: Does he offer Mike Richards a compliance buyout because the speed of the game has passed him by? Or does the fact that Richards seems to do so much better in the playoffs than the regular season make him safe? Lombardi tends to be like a lot of GMs – intensely loyal to the core group that helped him win. But unlike Jeff Carter, who has gotten better and better in his time in L.A., Richards has really struggled.

The Kings have yet to use either of their two compliance buyouts. Their last chance to do so will come in June. In Richards’ case, it would cost the club $19.3 million over 12 years (per CapGeek), but his cap hit — $5.75 million through 2019-20 — would be gone forever, which is the key.

Especially if the Kings hope to re-sign Marian Gaborik.

Not to mention, Anze Kopitar only has two years left on his deal before he can become an unrestricted free agent, while Justin Williams and Jarret Stoll can become UFAs next summer.

Richards has just two goals and four assists in these playoffs, while logging only 15:18 of ice time per game. When the Kings won the Cup in 2012, he averaged 19:31 and racked up 15 points.

Yes, he could still be a useful player on an NHL team. And at 29, he’s not exactly old. If there was no salary cap, this wouldn’t be a discussion, since at the very least he could be traded.

Come to think of it, could he be traded? Richards has $29 million in actual salary remaining on his contract, spread over six years. It’s not out of the question that a team would take that on, perhaps if it could send some salary back.

That is, if the Kings do actually decide his cap hit is too much for what he’s giving them. Depth down the middle is a great thing to have. In fact, it’s one of the reasons L.A. is one win from eliminating the defending champs and advancing to the Cup final. Even if it’s expensive.

After healthy scratch, Severson vows to play ‘next 80 games’

Jimmy Hayes, Damon Severson
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Damon Severson was a healthy scratch on Saturday.

It’s the last game he wants to miss this season.

“I had a good chat with a few people and just pretty much said, ‘I want to be in the next 80 games,’” Severson said, per The Record. “I sat out my game and that’s all I want to be out for for the year.”

Severson is one of the Devils’ most important young players. But this is also the 21-year-old defenseman’s sophomore season, and that’s when slumps can occur.

Hence, the early message he was sent by the coaching staff.

Severson is expected to be back in the lineup tonight when New Jersey hosts Nashville.

“He doesn’t have to be perfect,” coach John Hynes told reporters. “We’d just like to see him have a high compete level. We know he’s ready to go. We had a couple of good meetings with him. He’s in a good spot mentally. I know he’s ready to roll.”

Virtanen to make NHL debut tonight versus Kings

Jake Virtanen
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Jake Virtanen, the sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft, will make his NHL debut tonight when his Canucks meet the Kings in Los Angeles.

The 19-year-old winger was a healthy scratch for Vancouver’s first three games of the regular season. He had two goals and two assists in six preseason games.

“I can’t wait,” he told reporters. “My energy is high. I want to get a couple of hits on my first shift.”

Big and physical with goal-scoring ability, the consensus is that Virtanen will remain in the NHL and not be returned to junior after he’s played nine games. That consensus could always change based on his play, of course.

The Canucks — who won last night in Anaheim — did not have a full skate this morning, so it’s unclear who will come out of the lineup. The best guess is rookie Jared McCann, who’s been playing third-line center.

If McCann does come out, the Canucks could move Brandon Sutter to third-line center and Virtanen could take Sutter’s spot on the first line with the Sedin twins. Or, there could be more extensive line juggling.