On the same day Brad Richards spurned several suitors to sign with the New York Rangers, the Kings wasted little time securing their Plan B.
Left wing Simon Gagne signed a two-year contract worth a reported $7 million Saturday. He’ll be reunited with his former center in Philadelphia, Mike Richards, along with ex-Flyers coaches Terry Murray and John Stevens.
Gagne posted a 47-goal season with the Flyers in 2005-06, Richards’ rookie year with the club. Injuries have limited his ability to repeat that performance, as Gagne has only played two 70-game seasons since. Last season alone he missed 18 games with a neck injury, one game due to a pinched nerve in his neck, and another three games in the playoffs with a head injury, according to his injury history listed on TSN.com.
In the last five seasons, four in Philadelphia and most recently in Tampa Bay, Gagne has played in 76, 25, 79, 58 and 63 games, respectively.
The 31-year-old still put up decent numbers last season –17 goals and 40 points in 63 regular-season games, and another five goals and 12 points in 15 playoff games. He averaged 15:52 per game in the playoffs, fifth among a talented core of Lightning forwards, and was among the team’s top power-play threats. Seven of his 17 regular-season goals came on the power play, which should come as welcome news to a Kings squad that ranked 21st in the NHL with the man advantage last season.
The Kings made a big pitch Friday to Richards, who led the Dallas Stars in scoring the last two seasons. Richards today signed a nine-year contract with the Rangers, citing several non-monetary desires that ran counter to the Kings’ offer: to play close to his family in the Eastern time zone, to play for head coach John Tortorella (his coach with the 2004 Stanley Cup champion Lightning), to play on an original-six franchise, and to remain at the center position.
More details to come; a conference call with Gagne is expected at some point.