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Analysis: Richards deal makes sense for Flyers

Mike Richards is set to be a leader on the Flyers for years to come.

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Mike Richards is set to be a leader on the Flyers for years to come.

What will you be doing 12 years from now?

Not sure?

Mike Richards knows what he’ll be doing…playing center for the Philadelphia Flyers.

Richards today signed what amounts to a lifetime contract with the Flyers – 12 years for $69 million. It works out to a cap hit of $5.75 million a year. Assuming the salary cap continues to go up, as it has each year since it was implemented following the 2004-05 lockout, the Flyers have made a pretty good deal.

After a shaky sophomore season, Richards has emerged as the Flyers best all-around player this season, leading the team in scoring with 14 goals and 34 points in 28 games. He has four power play goals, three shorthanded tallies and three game-winning goals.

The Flyers believe they have the closest thing to the second coming of Bobby Clarke – a heart and soul player – and wanted to make sure he’ll be around for a while. Richards was slated to become a restricted free agent next summer. Although it seems preposterous to sign a player to such a long deal, it makes sense from a team standpoint. Richards’ salary comes nowhere close to what the top players in the game stand to earn as the cap escalates.

A player such as Alex Ovechkin, for instance, will likely pull in upwards of $10 million a year when he re-signs with Washington. Is Ovechkin twice the player Richards is? Not a chance. You might argue Richards could have commanded more money as he established himself as one of the league’s most valuable players, but who in their right mind is going to turn down $65 million?

Some will suggest complacency could be an issue moving forward, but I don’t see Mike Richards as the type of player who will ever be comfortable unless he’s winning and giving it his all.

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