Every day until June 30, we’ll write about a pending unrestricted free agent. Today’s UFA of the Day is…
Last summer, having just won the Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks, Richards was a fairly hot commodity in free agency. The veteran center signed a one-year deal with the Red Wings as soon as the market opened, for a cap hit of $3 million.
But Richards, now 36 years old, didn’t produce much for Detroit. He finished with just 10 goals and 18 assists in 68 regular-season games. He had one goal and was a minus-4 in five playoff games. The Red Wings have already told him they won’t be re-signing him before July 1, if at all.
A season like last might’ve convinced some players his age to consider retirement. But not Richards. Not yet.
“I want to look at free agency and see who calls and what opportunities are there, but I haven’t made my mind up with what I want to do yet,” he told The Guardian, a newspaper in his home province of Prince Edward Island.
“I’ve been fortunate to do a lot of great things in hockey, and hockey has been great to me. If it was time, I wouldn’t feel cheated, but I’m not there yet.”
Richards added that Detroit “just probably wasn’t a great fit for me,” and he believes a longer summer of rest and recuperation (compared to his previous two offseasons that followed long playoff runs) will help “quite a bit mentally and physically.”
It’s hard to imagine there won’t be at least one team that’s interested in adding the former Conn Smythe Trophy winner. Experience is still valued in the NHL, and Richards has plenty of that.
The question for any potential suitor is how much Richards can still contribute on the ice, in a league he admits is “a young, fast game now.”
Click here for all our 2016 UFA profiles.