Word around the league is that the Kings just took a big step forward today by acquiring center Mike Richar..."/> Word around the league is that the Kings just took a big step forward today by acquiring center Mike Richar..."/>

Kings Talking up Mike Richards Trade


Word around the league is that the Kings just took a big step forward today by acquiring center Mike Richards. ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun loves the move from the Kings perspective, and 67% of fans approve of the deal according to a poll on the LA King’s Insider. The bottom line is that while it’s tough to swallow the loss of everyone’s favorite Wayne Simmonds, and the highly touted Brayden Schenn, the move was done with the intent to win now, and for a long time. The creation of one of the league’s best 1-2 punches at center, shows that Lombardi’s ability to swing a big deal is still intact, which is a huge sign given his struggles in snagging top end talent in the past, with Marian Hossa, Marian Gaborik and Ilya Kovalchuk.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images via Zimbio

Brayden Schenn is touted as a top-tier prospect, and giving away a “can’t miss” 20-year-old is never easy. But, it is a player like Mike Richards(right) that Schenn is set to become down the road. So paying the price of a seemingly regressing Wayne Simmonds, to get an All-Star center during his prime, is worth losing the talent of Schenn and the heart of Simmonds. Plus, Richards is highly favorable to the needs of the Kings, bringing hard-nosed leadership and character to a team that lacks an intimidating motivator. At just 26, and locked up for 9 more seasons at a cap-hit of just $5.75 million, Richards’ affect on the cap is a half million less than Ryan Smyth, who by all accounts will likely be traded Friday.

The Kopitar-Richards combination centering the top two lines, gives the Kings the best pairing of top centers outside of possibly Vancouver(Sedin-Kessler) and Pittsburgh(Crosby-Malkin). As Dean Lombardi pointed out today, strength down the middle is the backbone to title winning teams, and he looked no further than the dominant teams of a decade ago like the Sakic-Forsberg led Avalanche, and the Nieuwendyk-Modano led Stars. By the way, with free agency kicking off on July 1st, the Kings still have money to acquire another top-six forward, especially with the impending vacancy of Ryan Smyth. Richards-Richards-Richardson line, anyone?

Here’s what the Kings had to say about the big deal:

GM Dean Lombardi sat down with both Kings Vision, and talked at length during the conference call with the media.

"Brayden Schenn is a very good player and a very good prospect, but as I said then — when everybody was asking about him — why would I give this guy up for a guy with one year left on his contract, or a free agent? it made no sense. You just never say never, but we’re also talking about a player here (in Richards) who arguably isn’t even in his prime yet, and the fact that he’s signed to a very favorable AAV [salary-cap figure]. At 5.7 (million) in today’s day and age, with trying to keep our core together and seeing how some of these AAVs are going, this deal made a lot of sense for us. So, I guess what I’m saying is, you never say never. I mean, Gretzky got traded. But clearly a player of this caliber was not available at the trade deadline. Again, that’s taking nothing away from Brayden. The Flyers got a very good player, who is going to play next year, but we felt that given Mike’s age and our need to move to the next level, this is our Adrian Gonzalez, I guess. (via LA Kings Insider)"

Head coach, Terry Murray:

"Well, just the name Mike Richards gives me a smile [laughs]. I was sitting here this afternoon when I spoke with Hexy [Ron Hextall]. It caught me by surprise, because I hadn’t heard a lot about this. Whenever the name Mike Richards was coming my way, boy, I got excited, because I just know the ability that he brings and the determination. He’s a compete player. He’s a compete player and he’s a complete player, in every situation. That’s why he ended up with the `C’ on his sweater in Philadelphia. He just has the uncanny ability to grab situations and to lead the way and push through a lot of very difficult situations through the season. It gives us a great punch, as you mentioned, with Kopitar there as our No. 1 guy. Mike Richards now slides right into that situation, right behind Kopi. You literally have a 1A-1B kind of a situation. It’s very nice to have a coach. (via LA Kings Insider)"

Newest King, Mike Richards:

"Yeah, I was very shocked when I got a call in the early afternoon from my agent. He just kind of gave me the rundown on what he knew. As the afternoon progressed, I started hearing a little bit more and more, and then I ended up actually reading it on the Internet before I was able to get the confirmation from my agent about it. At first I was shocked, and then excited. I’m excited to go out to L.A. and be a part of a team that has a ton of great players. I’m just looking forward to helping them out. (via LA Kings Insider)"

Kings captain, Dustin Brown:

"Just got off plane…. Tough to see simmer go but excited to welcome a great player in @mrichie18 as the newest king!"

Kings goaltender, Jonathan Quick:

"im pretty sure dean didnt sleep last 4 nights, want to wish simmer and schenner best of luck in philly, and welcome richie to los angeles"

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