He comes to the Canucks having been a member of a Stanley Cup-winning team, and now he’ll have the chance to earn a spot as Vancouver’s third line centre.
The Canucks signed centre Brad Richardson – not to be confused with Brad Richards – during Friday’s free agent frenzy. The deal, according to Capgeek.com, is two years at $2.3 million and an annual cap hit of $1.15 million.
Richardson spent the last five seasons with the L.A. Kings, winning a Stanley Cup championship back in 2012. The Canucks happened to be one the teams the Kings easily knocked aside during their remarkable run to the Cup.
While he can fill that spot as the team’s third-line centre, he’s versatile in that he can play wing if need be.
Up the middle is where he’s most comfortable.
“That’s my natural position,” he said during a conference call on Friday afternoon.
And at centre is where he feels, based on meetings with Vancouver’s management, the Canucks want him.
“It’s a guy that we wanted for some time,” Canucks general manager Mike Gillis told reporters outside Rogers Arena, as per video from the team’s YouTube site.
“I think that he can be a versatile player for us and move up and down the lineup and still leaves a spot open for one of the young guys to come in and compete for.”
Richardson comes to the Canucks having gone through a disappointing 2013 campaign with the Kings.
He appeared in only 16 of the 48 regular season games, not because of injury – although he underwent an emergency appendectomy prior to the start of the 2012 playoffs – but because, well, the Kings coaching staff simply chose not to play him.
To quote Captain from Cool Hand Luke, there appeared to be a “failure to communicate.”
“(I) didn’t get a lot of feedback on why I wasn’t playing,” said Richardson, who scored one goal and had six points last season.
He now comes to a team that just recently hired John Tortorella as the new head coach.
He likened Tortorella’s demanding style as something similar to his old coach in L.A., Darryl Sutter.
“I know John’s probably going to be the same way,” said Richardson.
Should Richardson start the season on the third line, it could leave the fourth-line centre spot wide open to competition.
The battle appears like it will be between some up and coming prospects in the Canucks organization. Brendan Gaunce, the Canucks’ first-round pick in 2012, has been mentioned as someone who could potentially come in and fill that position.
“I want to have opportunities for young players on this team,” said Gillis.
“I think we’re at that stage where we have a very good team that is a veteran team, so those (younger) guys are going to play with good players, they’re not going to be exposed.
“I would like to have spots available for those guys to compete for.”
That said, Gillis said he thinks Richardson can “compete” for the third line centre position. It’s not a given.
“It’s going to be an interesting camp,” he said.
The Canucks also signed free agent defenceman Yannick Weber. That deal is a one-year deal worth $650,000, according to Capgeek.com.
Weber, who has never played a full NHL season but was a part of Switzerland’s men’s team at the 2010 Olympics, played in six regular season games for the Montreal Canadiens in 2013, recording two assists.
A depth blue liner, he also adds the element of a right-handed shot, which has become a sometimes scarce but much needed commodity in Vancouver.
“We think there’s upside there,” said Gillis. “He’s got a great shot, we think he can help us on our power play.”