Brad Richards: Blackhawks center looking like good fit early
The early reviews are in after one preseason tilt for Blackhawks forward Brad Richards, and they're looking pretty solid so far.
Brad Richards made his much-anticipated game debut with the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night, as the Hawks knocked off the Detroit Red Wings in an overtime tilt at a packed United Center. The usual suspects got the Blackhawks on the stat sheet, with goals from Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, but there was a heavy focus on the new guy, in Brad Richards.
The Hawks went out and signed Richards to a one-year, $2 million deal in the offseason, fresh off of his buyout from the New York Rangers. Seeking a rebound, the Blackhawks would appear to be an ideal situation for the veteran center. He gets to play between a pair of dynamic forwards, in Kane and Brandon Saad, while taking on a lower pressure role with a contending team.
By lower pressure, one can just look at the fact that not much has come out of that second line center spot in recent years, with Patrick Kane somehow continuing to produce even with the speed equivalent of an anvil in the middle of that unit last year, in Michal Handzus. With an actual capable player in the middle, even with his best days behind him, many expect big things from the early trio of Saad, Richards, and Kane.
The early reviews, to this point, look good. The three demonstrated good chemistry in training camp, with both Saad and Richards setting up Patrick Kane for scores during scrimmages early in camp. Richards then took home a primary assist on the Patrick Kane goal on Tuesday night, which he scored via breakaway. Richards took a no-look pass from Duncan Keith and simply moved it up to Kane in stride, and the rest is history.
Kane was the star on Tuesday, and while Richards wasn't dominant, he didn't look out of place, as so many have as that second line pivot. We're starting to see what the benefits of having a center in there with big offensive upside and vision can do for Patrick Kane. If those three can continue developing the chemistry that has been displayed thus far, the Hawks' top six is going to be a nightmare for opposing teams, more so than it already is.
It's obviously still extremely early in camp, and with only one preseason game in the books, it's hard to make a true judgement of anything. Nonetheless, many like what they see from Brad Richards early, and he could prove to be the steal of the offseason in the chemistry continues to develop.
Randy Holt is a staff writer for Second City Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter @RandallPnkFloyd.