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Wings add depth up middle with Richards

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

A two-time Stanley Cup champion, Brad Richards has produced 288 goals and 904 points in 1,058 regular-season games in 14 NHL seasons. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings)

DETROIT – Besides adding a veteran presence to the blue line on Day 1 of the NHL’s free-agency period, the Red Wings also agreed to a one-year contract with veteran center Brad Richards, widely reported to be worth $3 million.

The 35-year-old Richards played last season with the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. It was the second time in his 14-season career that he’s won the Cup. He led Tampa Bay to the 2004 Cup championship, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP.

With the signing of right-handed shooting defenseman Mike Green earlier in the day, the Red Wings potentially have added two key pieces to the first unit of what would be a formidable new-look power-play along with Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Niklas Kronwall and Richards.

Richards isn’t afraid to shoot the puck. Last season he averaged more than 2 ½ shots per game. Only three Blackhawks – Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad – fired more shots on goal in the regular season.

Thanks to the New York Rangers, the Wings were able to land the 35-year-old Richards at a relatively low salary cap hit. The Rangers bought out Richards after the third season of a nine-year, $60 million contract following 2013-14. The veteran winger is still owed more than $17.5 million spread over the next 11 years.

Richards played last season with the Blackhawks, who paid the Prince Edward Island native $2 million on a one-year deal. He was productive offensively, chipping in with 12 goals and 37 points in 76 games. Richards scored three goals and added 11 assists in 23 playoff games for the Blackhawks.

Reportedly, his new one-year deal with Detroit could also pay him an additional $1 million it certain playoff incentives are met.

A third-round draft pick of the Lightning in 1998, Richards has played in more than 1,000 career games with Tampa Bay, Dallas, New York, and Chicago, totaling 288 goals and 904 points. He’s reached the 20-goal, 40-assist and 60-point benchmarks 10 times each during his NHL career.

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