The Vancouver Canucks had a pretty good fourth line centre in Maxim Lapierre, so it was a surprise when they didn’t renew his contract this offseason.
There was little to no discussion between the Canucks and Lapierre leading up to free agency on July 5.
The Canucks opted to sign Brad Richardson to a two-year contract worth $2.3 million. Lapierre would sign on the same day with the St. Louis Blues for two years worth $2.2 million.
During his two and a half seasons with the Canucks, Lapierre had become a fan favourite. He was the team leader in hits and showed the versatility to move up and down the lineup and from centre to right wing.
The fans knew what they were getting with Lapierre, but not so much for Richardson—a player relatively unknown in these parts. He wasn’t a player that stood out particularly in the Los Angeles Kings and Canucks battles in the playoffs. The Canucks paid $100,000 more to sign Richardson as well.
He only played in three games in the first three months of the 2013 season and sat out the rest as a healthy scratch. This raised some red flags.
However, Richardson has been an impressive find for the Canucks this season. He’s been centring the third line and has shown some scoring prowess. Richardson has five goals and nine points through 18 games and is on pace for a 41-point season.
Canucks head coach John Tortorella had praise for the 28-year old centre. “He can play up and down the lineup, win face-offs and has been a valuable addition,” Tortorella said. “He’s a dog on a bone and every situation we’ve put him in, he’s thrived at and is a big reason we’ve had this start.”
Richardson’s best season came in 2009-10 when he put up 11 goals and 27 points.