Detroit Red Wings: Brad Richards Will Make a Big Difference
by Jack Mullen
The Detroit Red Wings‘ signing of veteran center Brad Richards was most certainly a surprise to all. Obviously, general manager Ken Holland‘s primary target (and thankfully eventual acquisition) was defenseman Mike Green, and the team reportedly kicked tires on some scoring wingers, but the middle-six center didn’t seem to be on the radar.
Ken Holland revealed the signing’s purpose to be an opportunity to play Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg on the same line without sacrificing offensive depth. With this move, the Red Wings will likely run Richards,Riley Sheahan, and Luke Glendening as centers. Most likely,Darren Helm, once proclaimed as the best 3rd-line center in the NHL by ex-coach Mike Babcock, will be shifted to the wing in the bottom six.
Last season, Richards tallied 12 goals and 37 points in the middle-six with regular power play minutes. He also posted a career-high CorsiFor% of 54.7 (courtesy of hockey-reference.com). It would be reasonable to expect around 15 goals and 40 points for Richards this year, especially with Detroit’s already stellar power play adding Mike Green, and a hopefully rejuvenated offense under new head coach Jeff Blashill. His statistical effect is laudable, but the ensuing roster and depth implications of his signings will arguably be the biggest reward.