Los Angeles Kings centre Mike Richards cleared waivers Tuesday, proving his contract is too hefty for the competition to take on.
The depth centre has seen his production drop off again this season — 15 points in 47 games — and Richards’ name had been bandied about in trade talks with multiple teams, including the Toronto Maple Leafs, before hitting the waiver wire Monday.
HC @ Noon: Why a Richards-Phaneuf trade fell through
Richards still carries a salary cap hit of $5.75 million for five more seasons. With the forward being sent down to AHL Manchester, the Kings will save $925,000 in salary cap relief.
Richards will be available if the Kings wish to recall him for the playoffs.
Los Angeles could have used an amnesty buyout on the 29-year-old last summer but elected not to.
Richards has won two Stanley Cups in Los Angeles, but his salary has been a strain on the team’s cap. His ice time (13:41) ranks ninth among Kings forwards this season.
The other 29 teams had until noon Tuesday to claim Richards and his contract off waivers.
Richards scored 23 to 31 goals per season during a four-year stretch in Philadelphia. Since being traded to L.A. in 2011, the native of Kenora, Ont., has failed to score more than 18 in a season.
The Flyers signed Richards to a $69-million, 12-year contract before dealing him (and prospect Rob Bordson) to the Kings at the 2011 draft in exchange for Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn and L.A.’s 2012 second-round pick.
The defending champion Kings exit the all-star break fighting for their playoff lives. L.A. (20-15-12) sits one point behind Calgary for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference.
In other waiver wire news, the Devils’ Tim Sestito also cleared waivers. And Ottawa Senators forwards Colin Greening and Bradley Mills were placed on waivers Tuesday.