The Tampa Bay Lightning are a team that isn’t far off from getting back into the postseason. They’ve had a couple of disappointing years, but have the right core in place and could be a couple of free agent additions away from making a solid run within the next couple of seasons.
They’ll likely be an active team in free agency and out on the trade market this summer. In regard to the former, a familiar face could make his way onto the market, and could be a tremendous target for the Lightning front office. That familiar face is forward Brad Richards.
Richards is expected to be bought out by the New York Rangers this summer, after just two years on Broadway. His 2013 brought major disappointment, outside of a small stretch towards the end of the year. With another five years and a ton of money remaining on his contract, his days with the Blueshirts are likely at an end.
Which presents an opportunity for the Bolts. Richards is a former member of the Lightning, with some of his earliest, and some of his best, years coming when he was in Tampa Bay. As disappointing as he was with the Rangers, he’d be an asset to a Lightning team in need of a top six forward.
Richards could play either in the middle or out on the wing for Tampa Bay. He’ll put in 20 or so goals but his playmaking skills will help to set up the other teammates around him. From a personnel standpoint, there’s an obvious fit here with Richards. But the fact that he started his career in Tampa, and that he’s a veteran leader, makes him an even better fit.
Assuming Richards hits the market, expect the Lightning to be among the first teams involved. While there could be a ton of interest in the veteran forward, Tampa Bay could have an upper hand, given their history with the 33 year old.