The Red Wings are in some sort of weird cap hell brought on by the timing of all their injuries and placing players on LTIR. It's gotten to the point where apparently Joakim Andersson and his paltry $815,000 salary hit waivers for what the team referred to as "cap reasons." Meanwhile, Brad Richards is on a one-year $3M deal with another million in potential performance bonuses and has put up all of 12 points so far this season.
On the list of things that haven't gone right for the Wings, Brad Richards isn't particularly high. Jimmy Howard screwing up the 1A/1B setup, the power play, the play of the blueliners, and the overall lack of scoring are pretty big issues and Richards is a part of two of those issues, but generally, he's been pretty ok this season. Richards' on-ice Corsi so far is 52.8%. His penalty differential is positive, his relative numbers are all good. By all accounts, he's doing all right.
Then again, he's been playing alongside Pavel Datsyuk for much of the season and Pavel Datsyuk makes everybody look good. He's also a de facto power play quarterback... with 0 goals on the man advantage and just four assists. If Brad Richards point pace remains the same for the rest of the year, he'll end up with 23 points, which would be the lowest of his career since he put up 34 in 2012-13 (the lockout-shortened season where he only played 46 games).
When Richards was signed, the understanding was that he was going to be a fill-in at 2C who could move to the third line if needed. Richards was a way for Ken Holland to hedge against three rather large unknowns with the team over the summer.
- Whether or not Dylan Larkin would even make the team, let alone compete for leading scorer.
- How long it would take for Pavel Datsyuk to return back to the lineup and back to form after offseason surgergy.
- Uncertainty about Riley Sheahan's ability to handle 2C duties.
Detroit had the cap space to fill that role after buying out Stephen Weiss and wanted to make sure they had a plan in place. Richards fit that bill very well. Two of the three concerns turned out much better than expected, so it makes things look a bit worse, but the deal made sense at the time.
Like I said, Richards hasn't been bad, but he hasn't necessarily fulfilled the role for which he was brought in. Most days you'll find Richards playing a 2nd line winger spot that most of us would rather see filled by somebody else (though he's not the only forward in the top six that fans would prefer to see bumped down). Preseason dreams of Richards being good enough to allow Datsyuk & Zetterberg to play together haven't come true and the Wings have crunched themselves into what looks like is going to be bonus overages coming into next season where the Salary Cap could stay quite flat.
Richards' four power play assists (0 goals) have him at eighth on the team in points/60 while on the man advantage (using a minimum of 50 minutes played to disqualify Franzen and Smith from the running). It's more a testament to how bad the power play has been that the Wings have only one player (Zetterberg) in the leaguewide top 40 for PPP/60, but Richards' isn't even in the top 200 among players.
If everything were over today, I think the grade I'd give Brad Richards would be a C+ for his performance while I'd give Ken Holland a D+ for the signing. Technically passing grades for both,but disappointing when I know it was possible to get more. We were in a real spot this summer and the veteran Richards signing was a stopgap to help hedge against development/recovery problems, but I can't help to think that the team would likely look better if Andreas Athanasiou were with the team all season instead of Richards.
Realistically, we're going to have Richards on the roster for the rest of the season and into the playoffs. The 32+ games going forward can drastically change the grade. We know that if the Wings make the playoffs and Richards does magical stuff in those games, just about anything in the regular season can be forgiven, so instead I want to focus on just the rest of the regular season.
Here's where I leave it up to you. Tell us how many points Brad Richards would need to put up in the remaining 32 regular season games for the Wings in order to raise his grade to an A. We don't have reason to believe a trade or demotion is going to happen, so let's figure out where he needs to go from here.