The Time May Have Come for Los Angeles Kings to Trade Mike Richards

After Tuesday night’s 1-0 loss to the Buffalo Sabres, Los Angeles Kings head coach Darryl Sutter singled out Mike Richards for his lapse on the lone goal of the game.

This is noteworthy for two reasons.

Firstly, L.A.’s bench boss usually speaks in general terms, seldom isolating one player to praise or criticize.

Secondly, gaffe aside, Richards was probably the best player on the ice for either club in that contest. He won puck battles, controlled play and generated myriad chances that were flubbed by fourth-line partners Dwight King and Jordan Nolan.

That Sutter saw it fit to bag on No. 10 when he was among the few Kings players with a pulse on Tuesday suggests Richards isn’t likely to leave the coach’s doghouse any time soon.

At this point, a trade might be best for both player and team.


The Team’s Perspective

Since general manager Dean Lombardi didn’t use a compliance buyout on Richards to get his $5.75 million salary-cap hit off the books in the offseason, the Kings were clearly expecting him to regain his form in 2014-15. 

At least production-wise, that hasn’t been the case thus far. 

The 29-year-old has racked up 10 points in 28 games, and indicates he is on pace for the lowest point-per-game mark of his career. Not coincidentally, his average ice time is also lower than it’s ever been.

Sutter appears content to play Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter and Jarret Stoll above Richards on the depth chart, continually offering those pivots a greater share of even-strength and special teams action regardless of their performance.

At even strength and on the penalty kill, Richards ranks last among regular Kings centers (Kopitar, Carter, Stoll, Richards) in time on ice.

His lack of short-handed minutes is particularly cu...

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