Player evaluation: Richardson
This season: 81 games, 11 goals, 16 assists, 37 penalty minutes, 12:51 average ice time.
The good: After a frustrating 2008-09 season, Richardson made the most of every opportunity given to him this season. He started out on the fourth line and, in short time, had elevated himself to a successful run on the first line with Anze Kopitar and Wayne Simmonds. Richardson is a tireless worker, a strong skater and a smart player who is able to play center and wing and mesh well with any linemates.
The bad: Richardson is a bit of a “tweener,” in that his skill level suggests he should play more than a fourth-line role, yet he doesn’t seem to have the consistent offensive ability to play a top-six role. Richardson was once a 40-goal scorer in junior hockey. If he could develop into even a 20-goal screr at the NHL level, he would make things much easier for the Kings.
Going forward: Richardson is an unrestricted free agent this summer, but it’s hard to imagine that the Kings wouldn’t want to bring him back. Finding the correct role will be the challenge. Should he be the leader of a strong fourth line? Can he handle a third-line “stopper role” with Handzus and Simmonds? Can he play his way into a top-six role?