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Chicago signs Richards — one year, $2M — to solve 2C problem

Jul 1, 2014, 4:52 PM EDT

Brad Richards Getty Images

Chicago’s lack of a second-line center has been well documented — often times by our very own Jason Brough — so it came as no surprise today when the ‘Hawks decided to address the issue.

How they addressed it, though, is a bit of a stunner.

The ‘Hawks inked ex-Rangers center Brad Richards to a tidy one-year, $2 million deal, one that comes with a no-movement clause, per CapGeek. Financially speaking it’s a major win for Chicago, a team that was pressed right up against the salary cap but still able to bring in a quality middle man… at a very affordable price.

Richards, who became an unrestricted free agent 10 days ago following his buyout from the Rangers, is coming off a solid-if-unspectacular campaign in which he finished third among all Blueshirts skaters with 20 goals and 51 points. While the 34-year-old was a lightning rod for criticism given his $6.6 million cap hit, Richards is now working under far better financial terms — just $2 million  — and should be thrilled at the prospect of playing with any one of Chicago’s talented wingers: Patrick Sharp, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa or Brandon Saad.

The move will also be good from a familiarity standpoint as it returns Richards to the Western Conference, where he scored a career-high 91 points with Dallas during the 2009-10 campaign.

As for the finances, it’s easy to see why Richards chose to go where he did. He’s going to make an awful lot of money from his Rangers buyout ($3.05 million this year) so the option to take less salary to join a winner was out there. Few Cup contenders needed help at center more than Chicago, especially after St. Louis inked Paul Stastny in free agency earlier today.

Looking ahead, few will argue Chicago didn’t upgrade the 2C position in getting Richards over Michal Handzus, but it’ll still be interesting to see how Richards fits. There’s no denying he’s lost a step (which was one of the criticisms of Handzus) and, given Chicago’s speed up front, the ability to skate is at a premium.

Richards does, however, buy the ‘Hawks at least one year for prospect Teuvo Teravainen to cut his teeth at the AHL level and learn the nuances of playing center. That’s an important aspect of this deal.

  1. atwatercrushesokoye - Jul 1, 2014 at 4:54 PM

    I like this signing, it seems like a very low risk high reward type contract. Now it’ll be interesting to see what pieces the Hawks move to get under the cap.

    • darksidecowboy - Jul 1, 2014 at 4:56 PM

      not exactly high rewards, but i give ya low risk

      • atwatercrushesokoye - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:03 PM

        If it solves their number 2 center issues then it’s high reward, for only $2 million a year that’s a good risk.

      • kaptaanamerica - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:14 PM

        Richards sucks. He couldn’t even play under AV who gave him enough rope to run a line from Manhattan to LA… in the finals AV finally realized this guy sucked and started shutting him down….

      • esracerx46 - Jul 1, 2014 at 7:23 PM

        Richards scored more points than Kesler did. Granted Kesler is a better 2 way guy but still. Also, Derek Stepan only scored 57 points. Richards isn’t nearly as decrepit as so many people say.

      • gimmethecreeps - Jul 1, 2014 at 7:35 PM

        2 million a year for any second line center is a high reward contract, much less a guy who scored 20 goals last year and was a leader in the locker room. He can also play the point on the power play, this is and gigantic upgrade for the Hawks and it’s very low risk. Go figure Hawks get stronger down the middle, my rangers get weaker all around…

      • imleftcoast - Jul 1, 2014 at 8:31 PM

        AV had to change up the lines against LA b/c his minus was so bad. It would be blind faith to think this puts the Hawks above the Kings, and that’s who they are competing with (although the Central really got stacked today).

      • garn53 - Jul 2, 2014 at 3:44 PM

        Just depends upon which Brad Richards comes to play. He has been a dog lately and the Hawks don’t need more dogs waiting to be fed in the pen. If he puts his heart into it he will be a valuable piece to the puzzle.

  2. hockey412 - Jul 1, 2014 at 4:57 PM

    That’s a great deal. Crazy how little these players care about the bottom line when they’re getting paid by another team to not play with them.

  3. guitarhunterdude - Jul 1, 2014 at 4:57 PM

    That’s a great, great signing for the Hawks. I don’t think Teravainen’s ready yet, and Richards, though not what he used to be, will do pretty darned well between Kane and Saad. For one year, 2 million, that’s a steal.

    • endusersolutions2013 - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:32 PM

      And actually it’s bigger than Teuvo, Phil Denault, Mark McNeil and Drew LeBlanc all need the year in the AHL. The 1 year gig was great.

      • esracerx46 - Jul 1, 2014 at 7:30 PM

        Phillip Danault is the closest to the show, aside from Teravainen. Danault is most likely a bottom 6 guy. Very similar to Bolland. His offensive numbers were prolific in Junior. In Rockford he didn’t show his offensive prowess, but his +/- was crazy. Especially given he was the 3/4 center. McNeil showed a little more offense, but his defense needs a lot of work. Leblanc has likely played his only 2 NHL games for the Hawks.

  4. edmonddantes21 - Jul 1, 2014 at 4:58 PM

    Saw this coming because you knew when the Stars didn’t sign him he would go to a contender and no one had more of a need than the hawks for a 2C. No offense to the Rangers but its not like he was surrounded by great talent. They were good but not Sharp Kane Saad good. Richards will bounve back and have a good year I believe. I know he isn’t the same player but the Q will get him back to a good centerman. Looks like the biggest need is gone and the hawks are on their way to lifting a third cup in 6 years.

    • moarjam - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:12 PM

      Huh? He only played with St. Louis, Nash and Gaborik during his time in NY.

      Great signing though. It’s not like he was bad in NY (excluding the final two rounds where he was beyond bad) they just couldn’t live with that contract for the next 6 years!

      He scored some big goals and from all accounts Brad was the leader in that room. Sather also raved about how he took McDonough, Stepan, Hagelin, Kreider, Zuc under his wing and really showed them how to be a pro. He still has some solid hockey in him just as long as he doesn’t have to be THE guy, which he won’t in Chicago.

      GREAT signing.

      • twesty85 - Jul 1, 2014 at 7:27 PM

        St. Louis, Nash, and Gaborik don’t compare to the wingers he’ll have at his disposal in Chicago

  5. pfhockey - Jul 1, 2014 at 4:59 PM

    Bargain. Giving Teravainen more time to develop, plays along side Saad and Kane, maybe Sharp. Good deal. With all the overpaid deals today, this is a steal. Very low risk.

  6. comeonnowguys - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:01 PM

    Whoever they brought in was going to be a temporary stopgap while all the young players developed. With Zeus and Bollig gone, we can finally watch these younger Hawks get meaningful playoff on-ice time.

    Seeing some of these other later contracts, this is a steal! Best of luck Oduya.

  7. bleedrangerblue - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:01 PM

    Hey Chicago teach Richards about drop passes and how they hurt teams.

  8. shaundre93 - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:01 PM

    Richards is way better than Handzus and playing with Kane and Saad/Sharp all season is gonna help him out big time. Add that with the fact he’ll have wayyy less pressure on him and I think he could actually start looking like his old self, albeit a little slower. Great signing

    • wutangwild - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:04 PM

      agreed 100%. despite losing to them in the semi’s last year, the Hawks are one of my fav non-wild teams. I wasn’t old enough to see the North Stars/Hawks rivalry in the old days, but they play the game the right way and Toews is an absolute beast. hard to believe he’s only in his mid 20’s

  9. cubbybeers41 - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:02 PM

    This is a steal for one year and only has an upside for the Hawks. Now all they have to do is trade Versteeg, and they will be really close to being under the cap.

  10. wutangwild - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:02 PM

    And the central continues to bolster up…gonna be a bloodbath! solid signing by the hawks. As an aside, im visiting my cousins in Chi this fall, any recomendations on hotels/ restaurants to check out?

    • endusersolutions2013 - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:39 PM

      Or admit they made a big mistake and waive him. Kevin Hayes has not signed yet, and partially it may be the crowd on the team. Hawks need his cap space. Really wish coach Q had played Morin instead of Versteeg against the Kings. Did Versteeg even play 5 min in the overtime game 7? Top 2 line guys had to play too many minutes.

    • endusersolutions2013 - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:49 PM

      give us some help – what sort of restaurants? Chicago has a huge variaty of ethnic restaurants, including Hungarian, Iranian, German…

      If you are thinking Piza, I’d recommend Giordano’s (stuffed pizza, a Chicago original)

      • wutangwild - Jul 1, 2014 at 6:19 PM

        I was leaning more towards pizza, I’ll be sure to check out Giordano’s. I’ll likely end up staying with one of my friends that lives in Chi, but appreciate the recommendation.

    • thebigwhitecat - Jul 1, 2014 at 9:53 PM

      Exchequer Pub, Wabash & Adams downtown.It’s been there for about fifty years.
      Best non-franchise pan pizza in the city.

  11. avfanforlife - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:05 PM

    Wow… Can’t keep up will all the action today! Nice “get” for the Hawks… Our division is gonna be even crazier this season – Drop the puck already!!

  12. billiam55 - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:07 PM

    from a NYR fan im happy for Richi. great guy, great teammate and great leader. should be a nice fit for chicago. although i wouldnt call him a 2C……..

  13. parasolmonster - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:13 PM

    “few will argue Chicago didn’t upgrade the 2C position in getting Richards over Michal Handzus”

    Those few aren’t very bright. Richards is a clear upgrade over ‘Zus. Love the move, especially given the length and price of the deal

  14. dumbassgreg - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:16 PM

    see who Chicago has too trade to get under cap first. probably oduya. I would trade leddy.

  15. phtjoey - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:33 PM

    Not crazy about Richards as the 2C. I would want a much better and younger player at 2C, but I understand the Hawks have to work within their cap space. So, in that regard it’s an ok deal.

  16. DED - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:36 PM

    Good luck, Richie. At least you’ll be playing for a contender.

  17. stakex - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:51 PM

    I would call this the steal of the day if Richards can muster even moderately solid seasons going forward. Not sure Richards is a particularly good fit on a fast, skill based Hawks team… but at $2 million its certainly worth a shot.

  18. pj608 - Jul 1, 2014 at 6:21 PM

    at 2 million thats a steal. Buy out or no buy out….. only one thing though…. Chicago is over cap by about 3 million. Looks like a trade will be at hand

  19. r8rbhawk - Jul 1, 2014 at 6:38 PM

    Finally some good free agent news today after seeing the rest of the West stock up, especially within the central division. This solves the 2C problem. The Central division is definitely going to be the most powerful this upcoming season.

  20. chanceoffleury - Jul 1, 2014 at 7:21 PM

    very jealous! Thought for sure he’d end up in Nashville with Neal. I’ve always liked Richards, really solid pickup by the ‘hawks.

  21. peter845 - Jul 1, 2014 at 7:38 PM

    From 7mil to 2mil?? Niccccce!!! I just hope he won’t play with hossa!!!!!

    • pj608 - Jul 2, 2014 at 12:54 AM

      I am sure he will be between Hossa and sharp. Atleast for a trial run. Coach Q’s biggest mistake was taking kane off of the first line. Hossa was good but nothing is better than Kane and Toews. They could be blindfolded and still find each other on the ice for some of the sickest plays known to man

  22. twesty85 - Jul 1, 2014 at 7:39 PM

    I know that Richards is just a stop-gap til Tuevu(not sure how to spell it) is ready so i like this signing. It’s going to be a while but i can’t wait to see our last two draft picks on the ice(Tuevo, Schmaltz). In a few years the Hawks will have Captain Serious, Tuevo, Schmaltz, and possibly even Kruger(assuming we don’t trade him at some point). I like the Hawks style of never going after the huge names and overpaying. They are doing everything right as far as building a team goes by not going after big names and building through the draft.

  23. rupp246 - Jul 1, 2014 at 8:22 PM

    Hockey412 nailed it right on the head, well said.

  24. pone27 - Jul 1, 2014 at 8:26 PM

    Anyone who knocks this deal clearly is mad that Richards did not sign with their team for 2mil.

    2mil for Richards is a steal, no matter how you look at it.

    We all on here were just speaking on how any team that gets him for 2-3 years at 3 mil is a great price. Now that he comes to Chi town (a cup contending team) for 2 mil for one year and its garbage???

    Give me a break. Richards as the Hawks 2C at 2mil is arguably the best deal in free agency. So the Hawks pay 2mil for Richards, or keep Shaw or Zeus at 2C for almost the same value!?! How is this not a great deal??

    Great move boys. Next year looking great already.

  25. kcprof926 - Jul 1, 2014 at 9:22 PM

    Richards had 51 points last year. To get a veteran for this price was a great move by Bowman. Now time sign Toews and Kane

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  1. P. Kessel (1726)
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  4. M. Richards (1068)
  5. M. Giordano (1065)