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Brad Richards fell three wins shy of capturing his second career Stanley Cup, as his New York Rangers were eliminated in five games in the Stanley Cup Final.
Richards was bought out by the Rangers as New York has just six forwards and four defensemen signed for next season and needed to use his $6.66 million salary on retaining the services of its other players.
This leaves Richards, 34, as an unrestricted free agent, free to choose any team that he wishes to sign with for the 2014-15 season. He had 20 goals and 51 points in 82 regular-season games and 12 points in 25 postseason games.
The Detroit Red Wings could use Richards' services without a doubt, as there is no guarantee that regular second-line center Stephen Weiss (sports hernia) will be ready for training camp.
Weiss aside, however, the Red Wings struggled to get consistent offense out of players not named Zetterberg, Gustav Nyquist, Datsyuk and Johan Franzen. Richards, a streaky player, has the tools to bring out the best in a player like Franzen, should Franzen be on the second line.
Per Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press, Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said: "It's hard to know where [Weiss is] going to be in September. A lot of where he's going to be in September is really going to be about, is he going to be able to ... have a June, July and August where he's able to hit the gym and come to camp healthy, fit, ready to go."
Richards would be the ideal second-line center fit for the Red Wings. Even if the Wings still have Weiss on the books, if Richards was signed, Weiss could be put on long-term injury reserve if necessary.
Putting Weiss on LTIR wouldn't really be necessary, as the Red Wings still have $17 million in cap space with just three restricted free agents to re-sign.
The bottom line for Detroit is that Richards won't be looking at dollars and cents (having just been paid almost $21 million from his buyout), he will be looking at contenders. If Detroit seems like a contender and it has the cap space to give him a reasonable deal, he would definitely be a solid fit with the team.
Unfortunately for Detroit, it will likely be one of 20-something teams submitting an offer for Richards' services.