Another potential offering I am going to try and take advantage is to throw around exactly how a certain pending free agent would look playing with the Jackets, and how much the team stands to gain by adding him. This specific post will take a look at a player that almost came to Columbus during his tenure with the Lightning, only to be outbid by the Dallas Stars.
Currently playing out the final year of a 5 year contract paying him 7,800,000 per year in Dallas, Richards was the talk of the trade deadline, being mostly considered the most valuable asset potentially on the block. Certainly if he does not sign before the free agency period begins, he will be one of the best centers available, and more than certainly, he would be a tremendous addition to the Jackets roster. I won't delve too deeply into contract numbers, but at 30, I am sure a contract in the realm of 7,500,000 for around 4-6 years could come close to doing the trick. Slightly lower than Nash, yet a great pay day. His current stats over the last three years along with career numbers are the following;
Now, to the perks of him playing in Columbus:
1 - Bringing him aboard makes Rick Nash instantly better because Richards is a secondary threat, but not a difference between a top tier player and a second tier player as it stands right now with Brassard and Voracek on the ice. More like a 1a and 1b forward, they have the freedom to open up the ice for one another and with Richards being a fantastic passer, will provide Nash the space to be, well, Nash. I am not suggesting that Nash cannot do it on his own at the moment, but I do think he finds himself playing to the level of his linemates sometimes, and a guy like Richards will keep him at the elite level that makes him so immensely powerful on and off the puck.
2 - This would likely generate a 1-2 punch that would rival all others in the league. When you think about the Sedin twins in Vancouver, or the Getzlaf-Perry group in Anaheim, you immediately think about the success they generate because of being a top tier pairing. Rarely do you consider who rounds out the three man line, which leads me to believe that a guy like Voracek could have a sneaky good year while becoming a top tier winger at his own pace.
3 - The powerplay becomes immediately better. His role appears to remain consistent with the rest of his game, providing a substantial number of powerplay assists in each of his last three seasons, and again becomes a filler to a substantial gap in the current Jackets lineup
4 - Brass and Vermette drop a tier, heading down to the second and third lines respectively. While this is not meant to be a personal shot at either of them, it puts them in a fantastic position to succeed against players weaker than they are currently used to playing against. It also takes some ice time away from Vermette at even strength, but keeps him fresh as a top line penalty killer, something he is well versed in during his days in Ottawa. Something about an Umberger - Brassard - Calvert second line gets me pretty excited for the future scoring potential of the Jackets.
5 - It brings in a much MUCH needed star beyond Rick Nash. Sure, the Jackets have loads of character and a number of players that fans cannot help but love, but they truly need another player with the star power (or at least close to the same amount) similar to Nash. Bringing in Richards creates a certain level of depth that is sorely missed in Columbus, and something that could see a substantial increase in ticket sales when management shows that kind of buy in on the long term success of the team.
These are just a handful of the potentially beneficial opportunities that would arise with a Richards signing. Would you all be happy with that kind of pickup in Columbus without dealing major components of the Jackets potential future?
Carry the Flag!