After searching unsuccessfully for over a year, the Chicago Blackhawks have finally found a solid second line center to place behind captain Jonathan Toews. On Tuesday, the Blackhawks signed veteran center Brad Richards to a one-year contract. While financial terms were not disclosed, the deal is reportedly worth $2 million and contains a no-movement clause.
The 34-year-old Richards had 20 goals and 51 points in 82 games last season for the New York Rangers. He added 12 points in 25 postseason contests, but was demoted to the fourth line during the Stanley Cup Finals last season; where the Rangers fell to the Los Angeles Kings.
Richards was bought out by the Rangers last month to become an unrestricted free agent. He had signed a nine-year $60 million contract with New York prior to the 2011-2012 season. Over the course of his 13 NHL seasons, Richards has accumulated 867 points in 982 games split between the Rangers, Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning. He won a Stanley Cup with the Lightning in 2004, capturing the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. In 118 career playoff contests, he has 90 points.
Like the Rangers, the Blackhawks were eliminated by the Los Angeles Kings in the playoffs last season. They took the Kings to seven games, but failed in their attempt to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions.
The move comes on a relatively quite opening day of free agency for the Blackhawks. They did sign minor leaguers Scott Darling, Cody Bass and Pierre-Cedric Labrie to one-year deals on Tuesday. They also were able to re-sign forward Peter Regin. According to Cap Geek, the Blackhawks are now $216,795 over the salary cap.