Who's this guy?
Brad Richardson. Richie. Mr EverythingJr. I like tough nicknames for this guy. "Nails", or "Hard***. "B-Rich" sounds like a country singer.
Position: Centre. Right Wing.
Weight: 197 lbs.
Born: Febuary 4th, 1985 in Belleville Ontario, where he played his minor hockey, before being drafted 10th overall in the bantam draft for the OHL, by the Owen Sound Attack. After being drafted 163rd overall in 2003 by the Avalanche, Richie had an injury shortened season for the Attack the following year, but then put up eyepopping numbers in his final year in junior, with 41 goals and 97 points in 68 games.
How tough is Richardson? In 2012, he played ( well ) , and won a Cup after missing the first two games of the playoffs. with an emergency appendectomy. Hockey players take a lot of pain in the game, but coming back and playing well at the very highest level a couple days after major surgery...damn.
What'd he do?
Richie sort of joined Burrows as a part of the bad luck injury club. Where as Burrows missed some time last year, Richardson missed a whole whack of time this year, after getting in 73 games the year before. He was one of the players who put up good numbers under Torts, approaching his career best ( 09-10, his first year as a King, he had 11 goals and 27 points in 81 games ) with 11 goals and 23 points in The Lost Year.
In light of that, his production in the 45 games he did get in this past year was on pace to shatter those career bests. He had 8 goals ( 1 SH, 1 GWG ) and 21 points. He did that on 66 shots for a tidy 12.1 % shooting percentage, and averaged better than a hit a game ( 58 ) and a block almost every other game ( 20 ), with winning 47.8% of his draws. Brad Richardson, as usual, is a part of the solution more often than he is a part of the problem. You can count on him to play the right way, and to finish his checks. He is what other players call "and honest player". Here are his splits and stats from NHL.com.
Any good? Depends on your POV...
As I intimated above, Brad Richardson is a player that any coach would love to have. If he does leave the Canuck fold, he will have his pick of offers, you would think. He was a pretty good deal at 1.15 when he signed here. The advanced stats show that he is fantastic value for that kind of money. Remember when he first got here ? Our old friend Cam, in his usual loquacious manner, ( and in that bunch of words, a pretty cogent description of Corsi , with some good links to help you along...) showed how he compares pretty favorably with David Clarkson and Maxim Lapierre in a past post for LeafsNation.. Those fellows got paid 5-6 times and twice the money Richie signed for here !
No, with Richie it is all about two things. Is the ankle injury that put him out for 23 straight games, and troubled him all year something that is going to be an ongoing problem for him ? And, two, and this is the one that always gets the discussion going, if it better to have a Virtanen or McCann in that spot in the lineup instead ? Or, more likely, if the Canucks upgrade the Top 6 centre position behind ( or, like I have been saying for a few years, get a Top 3 centre and build a new #1 line, and have the Twins anchor the most productive "second" line in the NHL...) Henrik Sedin, is Richardson superfluous with Bo Horvat the perfect third line centre next year ?
Anything we like?
He did only get in about half the games this year, but our man did do this...showing those hands that put up all those points in junior. Nice shot Brad.
and this...before it went pear shaped, this is the kind of thing that a team should be doing in the playoffs. First man in there, and he pummeled Stajan pretty convincingly.
That shot above was pretty nice. This one is against a guy having a much better season in net. Same result from SniperJr.
Cool. So what did we hate?
He is a bottom six forward that is a free agent, and was undervalued on his last deal for the kind of production he put up. I hate that, like Matthias, Richie might be priced right out of the lineup. The Canucks like the youth movement for the same reason that other teams do. When a young guy on his ELC is producing at any level in the NHL, he is cheaper labour than most of the guys in that position. You can spend more on, say, upgrading your top 6 talent if the kids are producing in the NHL, That kind of thinking, coupled with the fact that there will be a lineup of teams after him and Matty who will probably price one or both out of the roster, might mean that our versatile and effective forward with the Cup pedigree might take those talents elsewhere.
I hope not. While I do see that there will be change, and that youth is inevitable ( It is all about the mix. There is room for vets and youth in a changing lineup ), a player that can put up numbers at a career best while enduring the worst injury plagued season of his pro life, and who cannot ever be accused of taking a shift off is a player I would hate to lose.
So what now?
Is there a way to keep the above average hands and playoff experienced game that Brad Richardson brings the Canucks? I have to believe SuperScout Benning, a man that sees a lot of hockey, has to be enamored with the kind of game this man is capable of, and thirty is not old as a professional athlete, especially these days. Obviously, if the ankle has something that is not going be a problem, all bets are off. ( I like mynhltraderumours for my player movement and rosterbation fantasy ideas, and they have B-Rich as a Top free agent in this years' "frenzy". ) You would have to think that sports medicine will make this problem a minor one, but as long as the doctors sign off on him, I am more than willing to find a way to get the man resigned than let him go.
At the very least, if the tea leaves make it obvious that he is gone, trade his rights for a late round pick. Hell, now that Cole Cassels ( a Mike Gillis draft pick ) has grown leaps and bounds in junior, keeping McDavid in check and being the man putting the young superstar out of his last junior playoffs, we could have a player with a similar skill set coming, who has more talent and a higher ceiling in the pipeline anyhow. It is doubtful that a guy that is a free agent would be happy with only a couple year deal to bridge to Cassels ( or one of several young forwards that will push in Prince George ), so it will probably take a three year deal with a decent raise to keep him here.
Will #15 be here come the new season ? Hopefully yes, but I have no idea...do you ?