USATSI_8354873_154158418_lowresSpeaking of taking chances, the Washington Capitals are taking one on Mike Richards. The club signed the centre to a one-year prorated deal worth $1 million.

The two-time Stanley Cup winner had a rather wild off-season, to say the least. He was arrested at a Canadian border crossing in June and charged with “possession of a controlled substance.” The Los Angeles Kings were able to settle with Richards back in October, which dealt with the not-so-small problem of the remaining five years of his contract. He became an unrestricted free agent.

Richards met with the NHL and was given clearance to continue his career, which subsequently led to his signing with the Capitals.

“Organizationally, I think it’s a low-risk move,” Washington general manager Brian MacLellan said. “It’s a one-year contract and it’s not a high dollar amount…and the upside is we have a player that’s trying to re-establish himself, that’s played the game at a high level, and has a good track record of playing on winning teams.”

Richards does have a preliminary court hearing later this month, but MacLellan is betting that everything will work out. And the Capitals have been monitoring the situation, with head coach Barry Trotz speaking with Richards last month. His former Kings teammate Justin Williams was also consulted as part of the vetting process.

Richards hasn’t seen NHL action since April 9, which suggests that a little AHL conditioning may be in order. MacLellan didn’t say when Richards would be expected to join the lineup and there will be a period of assessment.

“We’re going to see where he’s at playing-wise,” the GM said. “He’s been a number one centre in this league, a third-line centre, a two-way guy…we’re going to see where he’s at physically and mentally and try and incorporate him into our lineup.”

The Kenora native has 179 goals and 303 assists in 710 regular season games with the Los Angeles Kings and Philadelphia Flyers. In 124 playoff games, he has 87 points.

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