Mike Richards becomes unrestricted free agent after settling terminated contract with Kings

FILE - In this May 28, 2014, file photo, Los Angeles Kings center Mike Richards (10) keeps the puck away from Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (2) during a power play in the first period in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals in the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs in Chicago. The Los Angeles Kings terminated Mike Richards' contract Monday, June 29, 2015, claiming the forward committed a "material breach" of its terms. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

Mike Richards and the Los Angeles Kings have reached a settlement on the forward's terminated contract.

A resolution was announced by both the Kings and the NHLPA.

The NHLPA's statement:

“The National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) and the National Hockey League (NHL) have reached a settlement agreement regarding Mike Richards’ standard player contract. The settlement amicably resolves the grievance filed by the NHLPA on August 10, 2015 in response to the Los Angeles Kings’ termination of Richards’ contract. Richards is an Unrestricted Free Agent.”

The Kings' statement:

The Los Angeles Kings have reached an agreement with Mike Richards to resolve the grievance filed in relation to the termination of his NHL Standard Players Contract.  The terms are agreeable to all parties.  We will not be commenting further on the terms.   

Los Angeles terminated Richards’ contract on June 29 for what the team called a “material breach.”

The decision came after Richards was reportedly stopped while crossing the border from the United States into Canada on June 17 and was questioned about the prescription painkiller Oxycodone. Later the RCMP charged Richards for possession of a controlled substance. 

A former Philadelphia Flyers captain, Richards had seen a major drop-off in production since the Kings acquired him from the Philadelphia in the summer of 2011. His best season came in 2011-12 when he had 44 points in 74 games played, much lower than career highs of 80 points and 31 goals he notched with the Flyers in separate seasons. 

It's unclear if a team would want to take a chance on the 30-year-old Richards, especially due to his declining production and now his association with prescription drugs. 

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By initially terminating the deal the Kings were on the hook for a salary cap recapture charge of $1.32 million per-year over the next five years. Richards’ salary cap hit over that length of his contract would have been $5.75 million per-year. 

It's unclear what the total amount will be, though NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly emailed Puck Daddy the following.

"Cap Recapture charge remains and there will be an additional cap charge for cash amount of settlement."

Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman says Richards' salary cap charge will stay with the Kings until 2031. 

Los Angeles has roughly $3 million in salary cap space according to General Fanager.

Shortly after the termination, the NHLPA had filed a grievance, asking for the dispute to go to an arbitrator.

But according to McKenzie, there would have been too much to lose for either side if this was the case.

If an arbitrator ruled in favor of Richards, the Kings could have been on the hook for his contract. If the arbitrator ruled for the Kings, Richards could have likely lost the $22 million remaining on his contract.

His total contract was for 12 years at $69 million.

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This type of resolution could help the Kings moving on with other plans says ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, such as re-signing center Anze Kopitar. 

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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