June 23, 2011 1:30 pm

Initial thoughts/questions on Richards trade

This is certainly one of the more fascinating deals done by the Kings in years. In comes Mike Richards, a 26-year-old center who has already reached the 30-goal mark twice in six NHL seasons. Out goes Brayden Schenn, arguably the Kings’ top prospect and the player the Kings had resisted trading despite countless offers that basically started the day he was drafted, as well as Wayne Simmonds, a player assumed to have great potential who took something of a step backward last season. Privately, the Kings were concerned that Simmonds, due to be an unrestricted free agent, might draw an offer sheet if he was not re-signed by July 1.

Richards is under contract through the 2019-20 season, with a cap hit of $5.75 million.

There are so many questions/issues here. This trade would appear to increase the likelihood that Ryan Smyth will be traded or bought out. Does it also end the Kings’ pursuit of soon-to-be free agent Brad Richards? That was expected to be a very strong, serious pursuit. Finally, who will replace Simmonds on the right side? If Michal Handzus also departs via free agency, the Kings will have lost two-thirds of what has been their regular third line. We’ll try to figure out the answers to these questions soon.

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