Who is the better fantasy hockey own – Mike Richards or Joe Pavelski?
Facing off this week are two mid-career Western Conference centers – Mike Richards and Joe Pavelski. Which one should you choose over the other for your fantasy team? Time to find out, in Cage Match!
Career Path and Contract Status
Pavelski is already 29 and has played in nearly 500 career games. He was not an elite prospect when drafted (203rdoverall in 2003) but played so well in college hockey and during a brief AHL stint that he landed in the NHL to stay in 2007 and had a 59 point season by 2008-09. Since then, he posted point totals in the 50s, then the 60s in his last two full seasons, before finishing 2012-13 at a 53 point pace.
There's always been debate as to what Pavelski's points ceiling might be, since during all his time in San Jose Joe Thornton has been firmly entrenched as the team's #1 center while Pavelski has bounced between various lines and even played some wing. This might all change next season, as Thornton is on the last year of his deal, while Pavelski will start on year one of a five year deal paying $6M per season.
Richards is nearly a full year younger than Pavelski yet has played in nearly 100 more NHL games, due in large part to jumping straight from the OHL to the NHL as a 20 year old former first round pick. Richards' career has been more of a roller coaster ride, having gone from 155 points in 152 games with the Flyers in 2007-08 and 2008-09 to a mere 44 points in 74 games in his first full season with the Kings in 2011-12. But Richards rebounded last season, not just by scoring 32 points in 48 games (a 55 point full season pace) but also by posting 11 points in 11 games near the end of the regular season and carrying that momentum into 12 points in 15 playoff games.
Like Pavelski, Richards is a highly talented center, but in his case Anze Kopitar is the roadblock instead of Joe Thornton, although unlike Thornton Kopitar is signed through 2016. As for Richards' contract status, he's about half-way through a 12 year, $69M deal, with his highest salary under the deal being this past season and the amount per year dropping most every year by at least $500,000 between now and when it expires.
Place in Top Six
Richards looks to be a lock for the LA top six, not just because of his large contract, veteran status and past output, but also because as of now there are no up and coming centers in the Kings system that would be in position to actually displace Richards within the next few seasons.
With Pavelski, one could argue that he already fell outside of the top six last season, since according to Frozen Pool he spent more time centering the likes of