5 Potential New Teams for Waived Los Angeles Kings Center Mike Richards

Dave Lozo@@davelozoNHL National Lead WriterJanuary 26, 2015

5 Potential New Teams for Waived Los Angeles Kings Center Mike Richards

0 of 5

    Juan Ocampo/Getty Images

    The Los Angeles Kings placed Mike Richards on waivers Monday, which means the veteran center's time with the organization could be over.

    Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported the news, and Richards could be claimed by/traded to another team or sent to the club's AHL affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs.

    The Kings had an opportunity to use an amnesty buyout on Richards' hefty contract this past offseason but chose to show faith in Richards. It did not work out, as the struggling Kings could no longer justify a fourth-line center with a $5.75 million salary-cap hit through 2020.

    Richards will turn 30 years old next month, another factor that will make it difficult for any team to take on his contract for the next five seasons.

    Still, Richards is a two-time Stanley Cup champion who could be useful in a more expanded role on another team. He had 112 goals in his final four seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers before a trade sent him to Los Angeles in 2011, but that feels like a lifetime ago.

    Where could Richards land between now and the deadline to claim him on Tuesday at noon ET? Here are five potential places Richards could be calling home in the near future.

Winnipeg Jets

1 of 5

    Jonathan Kozub/Getty Images

    The Jets are a young squad that looks destined for its first playoff berth since the organization moved back to Winnipeg in 2011. If anyone could use Richards' wealth of playoff experience, it's the Jets.

    The problem, as it will be for anyone that chooses to grab Richards, is that albatross contract. The Jets will have to sign some of their blossoming players (Jacob Trouba, Mark Scheifele) over the next few years, so if Richards destroys the team's salary-cap plans, it's not worth it.

    If the Jets are smart, they will look to add cheaper depth pieces between now and the trade deadline.

Nashville Predators

2 of 5

    John Russell/Getty Images

    The Predators don't necessarily need another center—the waiving of Derek Roy earlier in the season speaks to that—but maybe Richards and head coach Peter Laviolette can rekindle some magic they had in Philadelphia.

    Some of Richards' best seasons occurred with Laviolette as his coach. They also occurred when Richards was a younger, better player, so it's not as though he will become an 80-point player again in Nashville.

    However, the Predators have a lot of centers set to become free agents after this season, so maybe Richards' contract makes sense for general manager David Poile.

    And just like with the Jets, the Predators could use a bit more playoff seasoning. Richards would be like pouring a bag of pepper on a bland piece of chicken in Nashville.

Buffalo Sabres

3 of 5

    Gary Wiepert/Associated Press

    The last thing the Buffalo Sabres should be doing is attempting to improve, as a 30th-place finish would guarantee either Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel—two blue-chip prospects—in the upcoming draft.

    But bringing Richards aboard makes sense on a couple levels.

    Firstly, it's not as though Richards coming to town is going to vault the Sabres to the middle of the standings. The Sabres are plenty bad enough that a minimal improvement like Richards won't significantly alter one of sport's greatest tank jobs.

    Secondly, once the Sabres do draft either McDavid or Eichel, they could use Richards as an example for the rookies. It's not as though the Sabres are loaded with veteran centers who have Richards' resume, and his two-way game can serve as a model.

Edmonton Oilers

4 of 5

    Derek Leung/Getty Images

    The Oilers are in a bad way when it comes to center depth, as Derek Roy instantly became their No. 2 when he was acquired from the Predators. The Oilers are also in a bad way when it comes to attracting free agents, so if they want to improve down the middle, this may be the only way they can do it.

    If the Oilers gave a free-agent center of Richards' caliber a five-year contract with a $5.75 million cap hit this summer, it would be an overpayment, but not one unlike most of their free-agent deals last summer.

    If the Oilers don't want to rush Leon Draisaitl to the NHL next season, Richards makes sense in that regard, too.

    The Oilers are loaded with young stars who could use Richards in the locker room. And it would be a good spot for Richards, too, as he'd very likely serve as a top-six center.

Manchester Monarchs

5 of 5

    Harry How/Getty Images

    When it's all said and done, a trip to the AHL may be Richards' likeliest fate. It's not just the contract that makes him such a gamble but his age and declining play as well.

    The Kings would love to rid themselves of Richards' cap hit, as they would love to add meaningful pieces like past additions Marian Gaborik and Jeff Carter at the trade deadline. If Richards goes unclaimed, Sportsnet's Luke Fox reports the Kings will save just $925,000 in cap space.

    Maybe some time in Manchester will help Richards and he will be back for the playoffs.

    Contract information courtesy of Spotrac.

🚨 SPORTS NEWS ➡️ YOUR INBOX

The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.