Mike Richards C LA 8 Months

The Los Angeles Kings have confirmed that they won't buy out Mike Richards.

Richards' role has diminished to the point where his $5.75 million cap hit through 2019-20 looks bad, but we can understand why the Kings wouldn't want to rock the boat after winning the Stanley Cup in two of the last three years. He had 11 goals and 41 points in 82 games during the 2013-14 regular season.

Mike Richards C LA 9 Months

TSN's Darren Dreger reports that the Kings aren't planning to use a buyout on Mike Richards, but that doesn't mean that he's guaranteed to be on the roster next year.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that he doesn't want to be a fourth-line center next season, but the Kings don't want to be faced the proposition of trying to replace him. Dreger reports: "The Kings are expected to push Richards in the off-season to improve his conditions and get a little bit stronger. But we also know that Richards is a strong and confident young man and he may not want to follow the path that the Kings want him to follow. So this could get very interesting."

Mike Richards C LA 9 Months

Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press believes the Jets should target Mike Richards if he becomes available.

There's been plenty of speculation that the Kings might buy out Richards this off-season and if they do then the two-way center is sure to attract plenty of interest. An unnamed NHL GM had this to say about Richards on Tuesday: "He still has that predator mentality. Maybe he can't cover 200 feet like he once could, but he's still a very good third-line center. He can still nullify good players. He can kill penalties and win draws. He adds strength and depth down the middle. At the right price, Richards is still a good piece. L.A. has a decision to make. I know the coaching staff won't be happy to see him leave if that's the way they decide to go."

Mike Richards C LA 9 Months

Mike Richards found the back of the net in the Kings' 3-0 victory Monday night.

Richards now has three goals and 10 points in 24 playoff contests. He got off to a slow start offensively in the postseason, but he has been held off the scoresheet in just two of the Kings' last six games.

Mike Richards C LA 9 Months

Mike Richards continues to contribute to the Kings success, albeit on the fourth line.

Richards was a big factor offensively in the Kings march to the Stanley Cup in 2012 but that is not his role this season. "[Richards] has a track record of winning and for sure understanding what his role is," coach Darryl Sutter said. "Basically he just wins. He's had to accept roles. ... The only reward for somebody like Mike Richards in all this is just winning."

Mike Richards C LA 9 Months

Mike Richards could be a buyout or trade candidate this off-season.

He has six years left on his deal at a salary cap hit of $5.75 million per season, which is too much money to be spending on a player who spends some of his time on the fourth line. "He's still smart, still a gamer, not lazy in his game," said TSN hockey analyst Ray Ferraro. "He's not really a fourth-line center, and plays important roles on penalty kill and power play." If the Kings want to keep Marian Gaborik, which they should, then someone may have to go make room and that person could be Richards.

Mike Richards C LA 9 Months

Mike Richards had 11 goals and 41 points, his lowest production since he had 32 points in 59 games for the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2006-07 season.

In addition, the Kings' veteran center was a team-worst minus-6 defensively. The old Richards has resurfaced in the playoffs, though. Centering the fourth line between Dwight King and Trevor Lewis, Richards has won 52.7 per cent of his faceoffs, has scored two goals and six points and has shown plenty of jump in his game. "He's got an elite skill set and when he steps his game up you really notice," King said of Richards. "He's just a little harder in all those areas that are noticeable in the playoffs, and those are big areas for any team. When you've been through as many tournaments and playoffs as he has, he knows what he needs to bring to be effective. And right now he's on the right path for sure." Richards went 23 games without a goal, from late November through mid-January. "I feel a lot better now," he said. "I'm playing more loose, just kind of doing my thing out there instead of worrying too much and overthinking situations."

Mike Richards C LA 10 Months

Mike Richards was only on the ice for 9:50 minutes in the Kings' 4-3 loss to Anaheim on Monday.

Richards had a minus-two rating, which drops him to a team-worst minus-five. He also has just three points in 12 playoff contests in 2014. He might not be the Kings' biggest offensive threat, but he is certainly supposed to be one of their primary contributors and he hasn't been able to do that in the postseason.

Mike Richards C LA 10 Months

Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter played around with his lines in Game 4 of the team's second-round playoff series against the Anaheim Ducks.

The shuffling placed Mike Richards between Tanner Pearson and Jeff Carter. "I thought that was a good line for us. They created multiple scoring opportunities and did a good job against whoever they were on the ice against." The trio could be line to start Game 5 together as well on Monday night.

Mike Richards C LA 10 Months

Mike Richards felt the Ducks played harder than the Kings in Game 3 on Thursday.

Anaheim earned a 3-2 victory over Los Angeles as a result. "They were a desperate team, and they showed up," Richards said. "We know what it is like to be in that position, and if the other team is more desperate than we are, they're probably going to have more success." Richards scored his first goal of the playoffs on Thursday, which at least gives him something to build off of.