From Lisa Dillman of the Los Angeles Times:
The Mike Richards compliance-buyout speculation peaked in the playoffs when the 29-year-old found himself centering the Kings’ fourth line — not a typical assignment for a guy with a $69 million contract.
Richards finished the postseason with three goals and seven assists while logging 15:33 of ice time per game, down significantly from the 19:31 he averaged in the 2012 playoffs.
Still, Richards has helped the Kings to two Stanley Cups since being traded from Philadelphia in 2011. He’s a leader on a very tight-knit, successful team.
“We like each other. We love each other,” said defenseman Alec Martinez after scoring the Cup-winning goal a week ago.
“From what guys say that have played elsewhere, what we have here is pretty special, in terms of guys really liking each other, and that’s a testament to [general manager Dean Lombardi] putting together a group of guys like that.”
Now, we suppose it’s still possible that Richards (and his $5.75 million cap hit through 2019-20) is traded. The Kings would no doubt like to re-sign Marian Gaborik. Also, Anze Kopitar only has two years left on his deal before he can become an unrestricted free agent, and Justin Williams and Jarret Stoll can become UFAs next summer, the same time youngsters Tyler Toffoli, Tanner Pearson, and Kyle Clifford will need new deals.
For now, though, Richards remains a King.
“The biggest thing in the meeting with Michael – the important thing – is that he realized he’s going to have to make some adjustments in his offseason training,” Lombardi told the LA Times today.
“He’s 29. In his prime. So it’s not as though the dropoff should be related to age. But players need to realize when you start getting 27, 28 — you can’t train, can’t prepare like you use to when you were 22 or 23.”