Many may question the blockbuster trade that sent Kings’ winger Wayne Simmonds and much sought after prospect Brayden Schenn, along with a second round draft pick in the 2012 draft to the Philadelphia Flyers for Mike Richards in return.
With Schenn’s outstanding performance during last year’s IIHF World Junior Championships, Schenn’s value sky rocketed. However, it did not seem Kings GM Dean Lombardi would be willing to part ways with Schenn. Throw fan favorite Wayne Simmonds and a second round draft pick in the mix and most would laugh at the absurdity of the proposed trade.
Apparently that was the right price to bring the Flyers’ captain to the west coast. Some may say, “In order to get something great you must be willing to give something great”. Sure Schenn may be the next big star, but him developing into that star may take a while to occur, Richards on the other hand will make an immediate impact on the Kings roster.
With the addition of Richards, the Kings will have one of the best groups of centers in the league. Known for his grit and heart, the Kings will be adding another versatile, two-way forward which will prove vital, especially if the Kings suffer a major injury during the season (reference Kopitar going down late last season).
Richards will more than likely grab the center spot on the second line, leaving Kopitar on the first line and moving Jarett Stoll to the third line. This could prove to be one of the strongest line ups down the center on any team in the league.
Along with Richards’ on ice performance he will prove to be a crucial player in the locker room, being more experienced than the majority of the Kings roster. Richards has played in 63 playoff games in his career. He played more games (23) during the 2009-2010 season, when he came two games away from winning the Stanley Cup, than most Kings players have played in their entire careers.
This move will give the Kings what they need to battle it out with the San Jose Sharks for the Pacific Division title, and the rest of the league for a shot at the Stanley Cup next season, something that may have taken a season or two of molding Schenn to occur. Richards’ presence on both the ice and the locker room will be immediately noticed and prove to be a major catalyst in the development of the Kings organization.