During the offseason, the Blackhawks went out and signed veteran center Brad Richards from free agency, filling a major hole in their offense. The 34-year-old professional has played on the New York Rangers for the past three years, including their run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2014.
Richards was relied upon immensely by his other teammates throughout the second half of last season, especially during the playoffs. Not because of his scoring ability, but because of his leadership qualities. At the trade deadline, the Rangers traded away their captain, Ryan Callahan, to the Tampa Bay Lightning, for Martin St. Louis. Richards was then relied upon the most, as an alternate captain, to lead his team to the playoffs.
With the amount of experience that Richards has, he is a great addition to a Hawks team that could use another veteran leader. With this signing, the Blackhawks have gotten a low-risk and high-reward player with a surprisingly low $2-million-1 year contract. It shows that Richards is a team player and he has the desire to win. Which is just what the Blackhawks need.
Over the course of the 2013 season, the Hawks struggled to find a consistent second-line center that could win key face-offs and create big plays. Richards is a guy that can do everything. He is a great passer and he can score the occasional goal as well. Yes, he is a bit older, but then again, so is Marian Hossa, and we all know what he can do.
Assuming that Richards will fill in the spot of Michael Handzus, he will fit perfectly between Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp. With the two top scorers on the Blackhawks last season playing on the same line as Richards, they are destined to create more offense. He is a much more offensively-minded player than Handzus, and he will also be a great addition to the inconsistent power-play that the Hawks had last season.
Richards’ mentality towards the game of hockey is similar to that of Jonahan Toews. He is more of a serious player that likes to be out there when the game is on the line. Brad Richards has been a reliable player that has great hockey-sense, plays like a leader, and is very passionate about winning. All of these things combined, form a player that will fit right in to a very solid Blackhawks team.