Kings make surprising trade for Mike Richards

The Kings got Richards alright.

It just wasn’t the Richards everyone expected.

Out of the blue Thursday afternoon came news the Kings made a deal with the Flyers to obtain center Mike Richards, the team captain and 66-point scorer last season.

No doubt, many scribes needed a double take to make sure the press release had the right guy. The Kings were expected to be one of the main suitors for Brad Richards of Dallas, the only blue-chip unrestricted free agent goal scorer expected to be on the market at the start of the signing period July 1.

“We felt at this stage of the franchise it was time to make a significant move for an impact player," general manager Dean Lombardi said in a statement. "Mike Richards is not only one of the top players in the league, he's also universally recognized as one of the finer leaders in the game and one of its elite competitors. Additionally, given that he's only 26 years old and he's on a long-term contract, he fits our plan now and for the long-term future."

Brad Richards had five more goals and 11 more points in nine less games than Mike Richards last season, but he’s also five years older and will likely demand a fatter contract. Mike Richards has nine years remaining on his deal, which brings a $5.75 million salary-cap dent. He also led the Flyers to the Stanley Cup final in 2010.

Of course, the Kings had to give up quite a bit to bring in Richards.

Heading to Philadelphia is center Brayden Schenn, the fifth overall pick two years ago who appears to be on the fast track to NHL stardom. The Kings were hesitant to deal Schenn at last winter's trade deadline but obviously Mike Richards was too good to pass up.

The deal also included third-year wing Wayne Simmonds, who had 14 goals and 16 assists in 80 games for the Kings last season but was marked by inconsistency.

With the addition of Richards and the trade for left wing Dustin Penner last February, there's no doubt the Kings are serious about making a run for the Stanley Cup title in the next year or two.