Mike Richards (Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Sharks have depth issues, and one potential option to help the bottom-six could be Mike Richards. Richards, 30, had his contract terminated by the Los Angeles Kings in the off-season after running into legal trouble, but has ties to San Jose coach Peter DeBoer.
Mike Richards had a tumultuous off-season that saw him have his contract terminated by the Los Angeles Kings and fall into legal trouble stemming from allegedly attempting to cross the border in possession of a controlled substance. However, Richards has reportedly been working out in Kitchener and could be on the brink of an NHL return when his legal situation is cleared up.
According to John Hoven of Mayor’s Manor, there are a few teams that may be interested in signing Richards once his legal situation clears up, including the Edmonton Oilers and Washington Capitals. But the most interesting report came from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman who wrote the San Jose Sharks could be kicking around the idea of bringing Richards back to the West Coast.
Friedman pointed out that the Sharks have some serious ties to Richards. Sharks coach Peter DeBoer and assistant Steve Spott were with the Kitchener Rangers when Richards had one of his best junior seasons and helped the Rangers to an OHL championship and Memorial Cup. DeBoer coached Richards for all four seasons he played in the OHL, and DeBoer was a member of the coaching staff during the 2005 World Junior Championship, which Richards captained to a gold medal.
When asked about the potential to bring Richards to San Jose, DeBoer told CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz that he has "always been a fan" of Richards, has stayed in contact with Richards and DeBoer said he’s glad to see the veteran center back training. DeBoer added that he believes Richards can still be an effective player in the league.
"I have had a conversation with him in the last few months just to check in on how he’s doing, and it seems like he’s in a really good place,” DeBoer told Kurz. “Just from a personal standpoint, I had the conversation, not reaching out for any other reason other than just checking in on a guy I have a lot of respect for. I believe he will come back and play in the league again, I really do, based on what I know about him.”
The fit would be there in San Jose as the Sharks are looking to add depth by whatever means necessary. Richards’ veteran status won’t harm his chances at inking a deal in San Jose, either, as the club signed 37-year-old Dainius Zubrus to a one-year deal after he performed well on a PTO in November.
Richards, 30, hasn’t suited up since this past April when the Kings failed to make the post-season. His off-season contract saga ended before the season began and he has been an unrestricted free agent since then, but teams have stayed away while waiting for the legal matter to be resolved.
In 710 career games, Richards has 179 goals and 482 points, but his production has fallen off dramatically in the past few seasons. After landing in Los Angeles following a shocking trade, Richards scored at no better than a .67 points per game pace. In his final four seasons in Philadelphia, Richards scored at no lower than a .71 points per game pace and managed a 30-goal, 80-point season in 2008-09.