Mike Richards clears waivers

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Los Angeles center Mike Richards cleared waivers on Tuesday.

Richards, 29, passed through the wire unclaimed after yesterday’s big news that L.A. waived him in the midst of what’s been a disappointing campaign. A former 80-point scorer and Selke runner-up, Richards played a key role in each of the Kings’ two Stanley Cup championships but had both his role and playing time decrease this year, scoring just five goals in 47 games while averaging less than 14 minutes a night.

Richards was always going to be a tough pickup for any team thanks to his massive 12-year, $69 million deal — one that carries a $5.75M annual cap hit through 2019. There were reportedly trades being negotiated through the weekend in an effort to move Richards but, when Kings GM Dean Lombardi became dissatisfied with the deals, Richards was waived.

“The way I look at this, Mike’s, in his career, he’s shown he can be a .330 hitter and get you 80 RBIs as an All-Star player,” Lombardi explained, per LA Kings Insider. “So, maybe at this stage, maybe it’s not there. But I still assume he’s capable of being a .280 hitter and doing a lot of those things for you that only he can do.

“Let’s face it – right now he’s batting .200.”

What happens now will prove interesting. Richards will likely be sent to AHL Manchester and the cap-strapped Kings will receive $925,000 of relief in the process. That said, Richards’ deal remains an albatross; even with that relief, the contract still represents $4.8 million of dead space.