WWYDW: A Professional Tryout for Mike Richards

Edmonton’s depth at centre is not good at the moment. With Connor McDavid on the shelf long-term, Edmonton has been employing all of Mark Letestu, Anton Lander and Andrew Miller at centre; that trio has now combined for 42 games but not a single even-strength point.

With that in mind, does it make sense for the Oilers to offer free agent centre Mike Richards a professional tryout?

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Peter Chiarelli2

Back before the Kings terminated Richards’ contract, the Oilers were discussing the possibility of a trade with Los Angeles. Via ESPN’s Katie Strang:

The team was already in the process of trying to trade him — discussions were in place with both the Edmonton Oilers and the Calgary Flames — but Kings general manager Dean Lombardi immediately informed both teams upon learning about the situation that he had no prior knowledge of the incident and halted those talks, according to a source.

Circumstances have of course changed. This was all before Richards was charged with possessing a controlled substance. At the time, Richards had a brutal long-term contract, and the Kings were undoubtedly offering Edmonton incentives in exchange for taking on his onerous cap hit. The ugly cap hit is gone, but the legal trouble and lack of sweeteners may leave the Oilers without any interest in the player.

However, those trade talks do suggest that general manager Peter Chiarelli saw Richards as being capable of playing some role on his hockey team. It’s possible he still sees him as a potentially useful player in Edmonton.

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Yea or Nay?

Shrugging Veronica

Richards will be in court on December 8, but a recent report published on the Toronto Star website suggests that won’t be the end of the matter:

Hymie Weinstein, who is acting as an agent for the Toronto-based [lawyer David] Humphrey, said Richards “will certainly not be saying anything while this matter is before the court.” Weinstein said he expects Richards to plead not guilty, and that he believes the Dec. 8 hearing date will be pushed back “months and months and months.”

A long delay would afford Richards the opportunity to play in the NHL this season, and to start getting his career back on track.

At his best, Richards was a top-line two-way centre who could play in all situations, both aiding the power play and killing penalties. In 2008-09 he posted career-best numbers, scoring 30 goals and adding 50 assists in 79 games played.

He hasn’t been at his best in recent years. He was a minus player for three consecutive seasons in Los Angeles, and his underlying numbers indicate that was no fluke; the Kings were legitimately a much worse team when he was on the ice. He managed 41 points in 2013-14 but fell to just five goals and 11 assists in 53 contests last season. Recently he hasn’t been a strong two-way player or offensive option.

As always with What Would You Do Wednesday, we turn to the comments section for the answer. Would you bring Richards in? Why or why not?

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  • If we’re talking about a professional tryout, I say we should go for it.

    I doubt that it would get much beyond that, given Richards’ recent history but it will come down to performance. Everyone was up in arms when the Oilers didn’t bring in Ribiero, who arguably had as much or more baggage than Richards.

    If he comes here with something to prove, let’s get him on a one year deal and milk it for 30-40 games – then maybe he can be jettisoned at the trade deadline.

    Odds are strong that he won’t be able to beat out a guy like Lander or Miller, however, and a PTO would at least tell us he isn’t worth signing.

  • Oilfan69

    We have Nuge, Drai and Hendricks + Lander and .

    The C depth looks okay right now unless we run into injuries. So we’re not desperate. It’s always nice to add character and experience.

    I don’t know his reputation. If he’s not a bad person to have around, I’d be good with a PTO and 2-way contract and it would give him an opportunity to prove he’s not a wash up.

    Offering a short-term 1-way would require some back ground checking and some face to face time with him.

  • Canoe Ride 27.1

    As a recovering addict myself, any criminal charges helped with motivation to stop using. Highly doubt he’s looking at jail time but it probably is In the back of his head. To me he deserves a chance if he’s sober and level headed. Now is he good enough to help the team? I have no idea

    • Leaking5w-30

      Thanks for sharing

      If Richards is taking his recovery seriously then he deserves a shot. It’s also worth considering that if his drop off in LA was addiction related he might be ready to return to form. I agree with outer posters that a 2way deal that lets him get his feet in the ahl would be worth considering.

      The upside is if being clean is all it takes to make him a 20 goals two way center, and he is willing to stay clean. Then it is a win for everyone. And if he stays clean he becomes a special type or roll model.