Player evaluation: Richardson
This season: 68 games, 7 goals, 12 assists, 47 penalty minutes, 11:46 average ice time.
The good: Richardson saved his best for the end of the season. After injuries to Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams necessitated some line-combination shifting, Richardson ended up centering a line with Kyle Clifford and Wayne Simmonds. The three young — Richardson, at 26, was the oldest — aggressive, hard-skating forwards seemed to thrive together. They found some chemistry in games late in the regular season and Richardson, with his fearless forechecking and nose for the net, helped lead the way.
The bad: Consistency has been an issue for Richardson, particularly when he is asked to rise above a fourth-line role. Once again this season, Richardson ended up as a healthy scratch for a handful of games after Terry Murray perceived Richardson’s game to be slipping. Richardson is held back, a bit, by his lack of finishing ability around the net. He doesn’t have the hands of a pure goal scorer, which limits his ability to rise above an energy-line role for long stretches.
Going forward: Richardson has proved his value to the Kings over the past two seasons. His energy and versatility — he can capably play all three forward position — alone make him a valuable addition to the roster, which is why he is likely to stick around despite being a restricted free agent this summer. The Kings have a glut of young players who can play energy-line roles, but Richardson’s experience and his ability to play on higher lines — in short bursts, if nothing else — gives him an advantage.