Would You?

48 hours before the trade deadline and this guy is getting a lot of heat. Tampa Bay is a bad team, probably because they have 40% of their payroll invested in 3 players. Brad Richards being the more prolific criminal, taking home 7.8 mil annually. That is money that Tampa needs to spend on resigning Dan Boyle, shoring up their defence, and paying for a #1 goalie. Even though Brad Richards is the highest paid he is often considered the worst of the "big three". I have a tough time arguing against the idea he is the most overpaid player in hockey. He is another guy who took one amazing season and cup run to the bank, though he did have previous good seasons to back it up. Here is a look at his stats since entering the NHL:

2007-08 Tampa Bay NHL 62 18 33 51 -25
2006-07 Tampa Bay NHL 82 25 45 70 -19
2005-06 Tampa Bay NHL 82 23 68 91 0
2003-04 Tampa Bay NHL 82 26 53 79 +14
2002-03 Tampa Bay NHL 80 17 57 74 +3
2001-02 Tampa Bay NHL 82 20 42 62 -18
2000-01 Tampa Bay NHL 82 21 41 62 -10

His 91 point season was his contract year and also Tampa's cup year. Now I'll try to defend the reasons for having him on our team.

His point production has fallen off the last couple years but there is one thing that has remained constant; his playoff performance. In each of the last three years Tampa has made the playoffs and Richards has 42 points in 34 games. That is an amazing number considering you don't often find point per game players in the playoffs at all.

As for this season, which appears to be the worst of his career, I can find issues that put his number in context specifically to Vinny Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis. The previous two players mentioned play on the top line with Vaclav Prospal as well as getting first unit power play time. Richards plays on a line with Michel Ouellett and Jan Hlavac. It is easy to see that Richards plays on a line with much lesser players. Behind The Net backs this up with his Quality of Teammates statistics:

1. Prospal - 0.35
2. Lecavalier 0.23
4.. St. Louis 0.16
6. Richards 0.07

He does play a lot of PP time including time on the point, but his performance can be compared to the others. Here is a list of PP points leaders on the team:

Brad Richards - 25 pts
Martin St. Louis - 23 pts
Vinny Lecavalier - 22 pts

And now a list of PP TOI:

Brad Richards - 310 mins
Martin St. Louis - 261 mins
Vinny Lecavalier - 262 mins

Which works out to PPP/60 min:
Brad Richards - 4.84
Martin St. Louis - 5.29
Vinny Lecavalier - 5.04

St. louis clearly dominates this category but Richards still performs at a high level in this category. For context I'll put the two most prolific Oilers down:

Hemsky - 5.69
Horcoff - 4.34

Horcoff is clearly in a lesser league but that Hemsky stat is ridiculous. For those who question his abilities, hes PPP/60 number is insane. Richards clearly brings an upgrade on Horcoff on the power play which has been brutal for a couple years.

But you can only defend Richards for so long. Though he does have a history of doing good things he does have shortfalls, specifically defensively. He has never been known to be a great two way player and his -25 just add to that. Also there is the idea of "Soft minutes" which Richards receives in comparison to the top line. According to Behind the Net he is ninth on Tampa in quality of competition where as the top line holds the top three spots on this list. He bleeds goals against as they say.

And finally the biggest problem with Richards; His Cap hit. 7.8 million is a lot for any team, and the Oilers have one of the highest payrolls in the league. We would have to send salary back to Tampa Bay and that is not what they want unless that player fills their need. The only player we have that might meet that requirement is Sheldon Souray, but that creates a lot of other issues. He would have to waive his NMC and trading a player less than a year after you sign him (which is a public problem for your team in the first place) just doesn't look good. Also he is out for the year so his health hinders this trade. Richards also has a NMC and he likely won't enjoy the confines of Edmonton too much.

Looks like this trade just can't happen.


Jon G said...

I would say that you make a good point. However, I am having trouble with you pointing out that Richards is a point per game player in the playoffs. That would be good for the Oilers if... We were going to make the playoffs in the next couple of year. Even with the fact that he shows up for the playoffs I hope to god that he is not an Oiler with a 7.8 million dollar contract

Rory said...

Don't think the Oilers will make the playoffs in the next couple of years? Why? Despite the injuries and youth they are hovering around .500 this year playing in the toughest division in the NHL. With the new schedule format and a healthy team they can make it next season.