Brad Richardson seeking multi-year deal to remain with Coyotes
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Brad Richardson needed the first three months of the 2017-18 NHL season just to get comfortable on the ice. It was a common refrain for most of the Coyotes this season, but Richardson was adapting to more than just an inhumane travel schedule, a new coaching staff, lots of new faces and a new style of play.
Richardson was adapting to a rebuilt leg.
“There was still pain, for sure,” he said.
Richardson had surgery in November 2016 to repair a broken right tibia and fibula sustained in a game against the Vancouver Canucks on Nov. 17 of 2016. He had a second procedure in March 2017 to remove a screw from the leg, and he had other complications including an inability to get his quads firing once he started training.
“I barely touched the ice until August and having all that time off was tough,” he said, “but when I did get on the ice I didn’t feel good so you’re trying to save your body for a point where you don’t feel like crap all the time.”
Richardson said he reached that point in January, and his turnaround was one of several key reasons the Coyotes went 20-14-7 in 2018. Coach Rick Tocchet used Richardson often in a shutdown role, centering a line against other teams’ top talent.
Remarkably, Richardson was only a minus-seven in that all-important job after Jan. 1, posting an even rating in February and March when the Coyotes had a healthy complement of players.
He also brought a fun-spirited presence to the locker room that made him one of what Tocchet called the “glue guys” on the team.
“He plays hard and he was able to play some tough minutes for us,” Coyotes general manager John Chayka said. “Brad provided a good veteran presence for our group.”
Just what that presence is worth will be sorted out this summer. Richardson can become an unrestricted free agent on July. He is finishing out a three-year, $6.25 million deal. One of his agents at Newport Sports Management, Mark Guy, said Monday that Richardson, 33, would be seeking a multi-year deal.
“We had numerous discussions with him over the last month of the season — and probably three discussions since the season ended,” Guy said. “Brad has made it clear that his preference would be to stay in Arizona if we are able to get something done so that’s what we’re going to try to work toward.
“Helping kind of shape the direction of the young guys and the franchise and having a chance to play against top players are two things he relishes. I know he really enjoyed the group and he has a great relationship with the coaching staff, with Toc. He just feels there is a bright future there.”
Guy said he has engaged in preliminary talks with Chayka, but he added that it would be premature to discuss term, dollars or comparables until those talks progress. Guy expects that to happen just before or during the NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo May 29 to June 3.
Given Richardson’s age, a two- or three-year deal might make sense with a similar dollar value to what he has made, but Chayka has other roster concerns to consider as well, including upgrading his forward group.
“My job is to build a team and you’ve got to be disciplined,” Chayka said. “It’s got to make sense and it’s got to fit.”
Richardson has been an unrestricted free agent twice before so he is preaching patience.
“Obviously, I like it here and my preference would be to come back, but the longer it goes, the more options start surfacing and you see what else is out there,” he said. “I know my worth and what I bring to the team. I’m excited to be in that role. Whether it’s here or it’s somewhere else, I’ll keep doing the same things.”