Who's this guy?
Born: February 4, 1985 in Belleville, Ontario
History: Drafted in the 5th round (163rd overall) by the Colorado Avalanche in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.
What'd he do?
Brad Richardson joined the Canucks this season after spending the past five years with the Los Angeles Kings when last July, Vancouver signed Richardson during free agency. Comparing this season to past years, Richardson's production was pretty similar to the numbers he's put up in years past. After appearing in just 16 games last year, Richardson saw action in 73 games this year, tying a career-high. His 12 goals tied for the second most in his career, and his 23 points were second only to when he put up 27 points in the 2009-10 season with the Kings.
Richardson's contributions were slanted towards the beginning and end of the year, with 14 of his 23 points coming in the first and last month of the year. Like the rest of the team, once the calendar turned to 2014, Richardson's production tanked. In a 22-game stretch from January 1 to March 23, Richardson recorded just two points. He answered back from that slump with six points in the team's final nine games, so at least he had the strong finish going for him. During that stretch, Richardson also scored three goals over the course of six games, including a game-winner against his former team with 1:23 left in regulation when the Canucks beat the Kings 2-1 back on April 5. The win delayed Vancouver's impending elimination just a little bit longer as Richardson and the Canucks proved to be masters of procrastination.
What'd we like?
With less than 90 seconds remaining in regulation, Richardson lifted the Canucks to a 2-1 win over the Kings on April 5, delaying their playoff elimination just a little bit longer.
How about this shorty from Richardson way back on October 5 against the Oilers?
Good to see some fight in Richardson, including this scrum against Kyle Palmieri on January 5.
Richardson along with Zack Kassian and David Booth might as well been on the power play in this dominating shift against the Predators, which makes sense considering no goal came out of it.
And let's not forget when Richardson lifted the Canucks over the Islanders on the road with this game-winner in overtime.
Cool. So what did we hate?
I never like to compare players in a general pool, but rather against themselves. By these standards, Richardson had one of the better years of his career when you just strictly look at the numbers. Tying a career-high in games played was a plus with this team that had to deal with their fair share of injuries. And his 12 goals and 23 points were some of the better numbers he has put up in his career. But overall, his production wasn't consistent enough for my liking. Yes, I know players will all have their cold streaks and slumps, but two points in 22 games? That's beyond a cold streak at that point. I liked his strong finish with six points over the final nine games, but his production was too heavily slated towards the opposite ends of the season. It seems like once 2014 hit, everyone's numbers took a shot, but Richardson really fell off during that time. Would it have made much of a difference if he had got going a little earlier than the third week of March? It certainly wouldn't have hurt, but a lot of guys struggled during that time at the start of the calendar year. All in all, the Canucks got the types of numbers they expected out of Richardson compared to what he normally brings to the table. I'd just like to see a little more consistency in the future.
So what now?
Richardson is entering the final year of his two-year contract he signed with the Canucks last summer and will be owed $1.15 million. I wouldn't say he needs a big turnaround, but he does need to be more consistent if he hopes to be a part of this team's future. After next season, Richardson will be an unrestricted free agent along with David Booth, Shawn Matthias and Tom Sestito. In a hypothetical situation where I had to pick between the two, I'd go with Richardson over Booth because of a little more production in my opinion for much less. Booth will be entering the final year of his 6-year, $25.5 million contract he signed in 2009. Richardson was able to produce a little more for a few million dollars less, so it'll be interesting to watch both of them next season. I think there's a lot to be said for how a player performs in a contract year as its almost an audition for other teams every game of the year. Who knows? Maybe we can see even more production from Richardson next year as a result.