Mike Richards, buyout candidate?

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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.