Pittsburgh Penguins Trade Chatter: Swapping Rob Scuderi for Mike Richards


Sometimes when you have a complex problem you have to think outside the box. You have to make tough decisions and take one step back and two to your side, before you can take three steps forward. Therein lies the problem that the Pittsburgh Penguins currently face with Rob Scuderi.

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At this point in his career Scuds is not worth the $3.375 million dollar cap hit he is due to receive over the next two years. The roster spot that he is taking up is too valuable to the Penguins to have sunken costs in a 6/7 defenseman when your top three players eat up almost $25 million in cap space. This is reinforced in the fact that Brian Dumoulin, Taylor Chorney, and Scott Harrington could replace Scuderi at a third of the price.

It has been noted ad nauseam that buying out Scuderi would cost the Penguins around $1.5 million per year in cap penalties over the next two seasons with $1 million in cap penalties in 2017-18 and 2018-19. This would total around $5 million over the next four years to pay Scuderi to go away with a check and a slap on the back. And, many Pittsburgh Penguins fans are ok with that.

Other Penguin fans have taken a different approach, looking for ways to dump Scuderi for draft picks, other bad contracts, or for a bag of pucks. This can be made a reality. Look at the David Clarkson for Nathan Horton trade as an example of the unexpected happening with albatrosses of contracts.

Jan 1, 2015; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Los Angeles Kings forward

Mike Richards

(10) skates in warm up against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena. The Los Angeles Kings won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Kings are also facing a conundrum of epic proportions with a terrible contract. Mike Richards is carrying a cap hit of $5.75 million per year over the next five seasons. This past season Richards tallied 5 goals and 11 assists in 53 games with the Kings before he was banished to the Manchester Monarchs for the remainder of the season. Richards would go on to record 14 points in 16 games with the Monarchs before the end of the AHL regular season.

Keep in mind, Mike Richards is only 30-years old and just four years removed from scoring 5 points in 7 Olympic contests. Yet, he couldn’t even draw a sweater from a team that failed to make the playoffs.

Richards is no longer the dynamic 30 goal scorer that raised the ire on the ice of Pittsburgh Penguins Captain Sidney Crosby with his tenacious play and was a perennial Selke award finalist. However, though he isn’t a $5.75 million player, he also isn’t terrible. At this point in his career using prorated stats he would be around 8 goals and 17 assists for the 14-15 season, or right around what the Pens got from Nick Spalling for $2.2 million last season.

Rumors have surfaced that the Kings are looking to move Richards this summer, but options are limited. A buyout would cost the Kings around $1.5 million per year over the next ten years in cap penalties, in addition to the $15 million check he would receive for his buyout. While the Kings are a large market team, burying Richards in the AHL and paying him the nearly $22 million left on his contract makes even less financial sense. Also, the chance that someone takes on his salary as a whole in a cap dump are infinitesimal.

One scenario that may work for the Kings is retaining salary. Richards at $2.3 million retained would give an average cap hit of $3.1 million over the 5 remaining years of his contract and make the total value a manageable $15.5 million. The going rate for a defensive Center that can post 30 points is currently around $2.8 million, while the Pens currently have Brandon Sutter at $3.3 million. Richards is also well-known for his leadership abilities and has multiple Stanley Cup rings.

So, here’s the question. If the Pittsburgh Penguins were offered a swap of Scuderi for Richards with the Kings retaining $2.3 million, would you make that trade? Would the Kings?

If the Pens keep Scuderi they are on the hook for $7.5 million over the next two seasons. If they buy him out they are on the books for $5 million over four years plus the cost of the buyout.

If this deal were reality, the Pens would eliminate that $7.5 million owed to Scuderi, but instead pay Mike Richards $15.5 million over the next five years. So, they end up spending an extra $2 million per year compared to a Scuderi buyout, but they have something to show for it.

Why would this make sense for the Kings you ask? The short answer is, money.

The Kings are likely going to re-sign Andrej Sekera in the offseason; however, the chance that Slava Voynov ever plays for the Kings again is slim to none. This opens a hole on their back end and who better to fill that void than a trusted veteran that knows the system and has won a cup in LA. The Kings had already floated out the idea of a Mike Richards buyout so the financial retributions have likely already been discussed internally.

From an asset management standpoint, adding Scuderi for $14 million instead of writing a check to Mike Richards and paying $15 million in penalties makes sense. Plus, they’re adding a veteran defenseman that fills a void and is familiar with their system.

In conclusion, this deal saves the Kings a lot of money in the long run, and gives them an asset that they may be able to use. The Pens rid themselves of a defenseman that doesn’t fit their system and is eating up valuable cap space. Of course, the ideal situation for the Kings would be to move Richards for a draft pick and retained salary so they don’t have to take the burden of another contract. But, sometimes beggars can’t be choosers.

Next: The 5 Worst Trades in Pens Franchise History

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