Mike Richards is Not Derek Roy.

A few weeks ago, the Oilers made a trade in which they dealt AHL quality centerman Mark Arcobello to the Nashville Predators for the experienced, yet underwhelming Derek Roy. Arcobello had better stats, and it felt like a horizontal move that didn’t really make them better. I didn’t mind the move, because despite his shortcomings, Roy has a lot more experience than most of the guys in the Oilers dressing room, and he’s a legitimate NHL player. Since coming to the Oilers, Roy has three goals and eight points, and the team has won four of their past eight games. (For the Oilers, that’s actually a good stretch).

Derek Roy Edmonton Oilers
(Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports)

Do the Oilers Need More Veteran Help?

For those people who want to see progress in terms of positioning in the standings, they want Edmonton to bring in whatever help they can get. They’d love for Craig MacTavish to start acquiring some proven winners to help out the young guys. Derek Roy is a center, something they desperately need, especially since they sent Leon Draisaitl back to junior. I wonder if there are any other veteran centers available who could help the team now.

Mike Richards is a two-time Stanley Cup champion. He won a gold medal at the Olympics. He’s a decorated player. He’s a gritty forward who is never afraid to go into the corners and mix it up. He’s the kind of guy who leads by example. He kills penalties, he’s got offensive skill and he’s willing to fight for the puck in the dirty areas. He’s also a centerman, and he just so happens to be on waivers. The Oilers should totally go for him right?

Mike Richards is Far too Expensive

No. Not right. Mike Richards has won a lot of things, but don’t think for a second that he was a centerpiece in those team victories. This is not to take away from what Richards has done. He’s proven to be a solid player, and he was even a captain while in Philadelphia. But is Richards really worth it? His offensive output has been dipping, although they could have something to do with the fact he’s playing on the forth line.

Richards is one of those guys who signed an outrageously big contract, and now simply can’t live up to it. He’s got five years remaining on his current deal, at $5.75 million. He’s still youngish, at 29 years old, but based on the past few years, it really seems like his best is behind him. Richards foot speed is suspect, and he was challenged by the Kings last summer to improve his off-season conditioning. Now is there a chance that Richards can flourish in a new environment, with better line-mates and more ice-time? Of course there’s a chance.

(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)
(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Derek Roy was brought into Edmonton because he’s proven he can play at this level on a consistent basis, and someone needs to actually step onto the ice and play the games. He was a low-risk investment because he’s a free agent after this season, and if they really love him, there’s a chance he could stay around on a cheap one or two year deal. But Mike Richards has an albatross of a contract. Acquiring him means you better believe he can turn things around, because you’ll be stuck with him.

The Oilers have cap space, but they need to spend it on guys who are going to be part of their future. They need to think about what it will take to get a legitimate number one goaltender. They need to consider the cost of upgrading their defence. Richards might end up being a better version of Derek Roy, but that cap hit and term may end up dooming him to the AHL. Another team could take a chance on him. But hopefully it won’t be the Oilers. They’ll likely come to regret it.


11 thoughts on “Mike Richards is Not Derek Roy.”

  1. Marcy – Cody Franson is only 2 years younger than Richards. Richards is certainly more well rounded and accomplished. He has more upside in that there is a chance he could return to Flyers form. There is little downside because worst case he will be a veteran well rounded 2 or 3 center adding stability. Franson is bigger. That’s about it.

    • I referenced Franson because he’s a defenceman, something they desperately need. And since defencemen tend to take a little longer to develop, his age isn’t a problem in my mind. But, I didn’t say the Oilers should get Franson. It was just an example that they should be looking at investing into defencemen. If Richards had a smaller cap hit or less term, it would make more sense.

  2. The only problem with Richards is where do you play him? Nugent-Hopkins is number one, could be number two if in theory the Oilers were to get a McDavid in the draft (but lets not get ahead of ourselves). Roy is doing a solid job in the 2 slot. Do you play Richards in 3? That’s a lot of money for a third line center. Do you pump Roy who has done nothing but help you thus far? That said…. if the Kings were willing to take a small piece of his contract …I would be all for the Oilers getting Richards. Add a Richards and add a defenseman of Richards quality….and you have a legitimately good team (albeit weak in goal).

    • Yeah that’s exactly it, do you want that kind of money invested into a third line player and that’s the problem with Richards. Now as you said if the Kings retain some of the salary, then maybe they can consider it.

  3. ‘Mike Richards has won a lot of things, but don’t think for a second that he was a centerpiece in those team victories(…)’

    This statement couldn’t be more wrong … he was very much one of the pillars of the 2012 cup for LA, made some very important plays in 2014 cup run for LA and is the only player(!) who came back from 0-3 deficit in playoff twice … and that’s even without looking at his contribution to Flyers …


    It is probably a mental thing for him now but he will be back … watch a setup for a game tying goal in game 1 of duck series last playoffs … he gets his own rebound, retains the puck against the wall against, check from getzlaf, creates room and shoots/passes on net for Gaborik to finish …

    • Mike Richards was a very effective player for the Flyers, and yes he has contributed to the Kings success, but the Oilers can’t look at his accolades alone and believe he is worth the investment. His role had diminished in Los Angeles, and I would like to see what he could do in an expanded role with more ice time. I do think he could make a difference on a team, but this is looking at whether or not he would be a fit on the Oilers, and they would be taking a big gamble on him. I’m not sure they should be looking to do that right now.

  4. Maybe I just happen to watch Richards at the right time for him and the wrong time for his critics, but he always seems to be making key plays. Some of it shows up on the stat sheets and some of it doesn’t. He’s always been a phenomenal board player. Without him, LA doesn’t win two cups and Philly doesn’t get to the finals; that is without question. I don’t think you can ever justifiably criticize a team for dumping a big contract when they’re sitting in ninth or tenth place in the standings, but this LA always comes from the back and doesn’t ever start playing until the playoffs. I understand the economics, but if they get to the playoffs, this will hurt them, no doubt.

    • I actually believe he was being misused in the latter part of his time in LA. For whatever reason, they saw other players as being ahead of him on the depth chart. And his salary hit was a lot for a third or forth line player, especially on a cap team like the Kings. I would not be surprised one bit if he rejuvenates his career in another place. But the question is will anyone give him a chance.

  5. Exactly which guys are part of the Oilers future that they are going to be spending significant cap space on? Who among them has earned any kind of raise to good veteran level pay? Also, until the Oilers improve their D by quite a bit, who knows if any goalie brought into this situation is a #1 or not?

    • I wasn’t referring to anyone currently on the roster. The point of this article is about bringing players in from the outside. If they are going to spend money on guys, it should someone young (like Ryan O’Reilly or Cody Franson for example), who they believe can really be a part of their core moving forward. If they want to bring in veteran help, that’s fine, but it needs to be someone with a smaller cap hit and less term than Mike Richards. Or at least someone who is proven to be playing a high level. The last thing the Oilers need is dead weight taking up their cap space. And I mentioned they need help on defence, that’s a big priority.

Comments are closed.