Listening to Pierre McGuire talk about Mike Richards this season, you might think he was some twisted combination of Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe and the incredible hulk all rolled into one 5-foot-11, 200-pound frame. Maybe he's not quite that good, but he is one of the best players in the NHL and the type of cornerstone the Flyers will be building around for years.
No team scored more shorthanded goals than Philadelphia's 16 this past season, and leading the way was Richards with a league-leading seven. He's already tallied 17 shorthanded goals in his career, and is the only player in NHL history to have three goals scored in three-on-five situations.
The 2008-09 season was the best of Richards' young career, as the 23-year-old scored 30 goals to go with his 50 assists. Even more impressive is the fact he did it while playing all year with pain in both shoulders that would require surgery following the season.
Draft Year: 2003
As mentioned earlier in these rankings, the Philadelphia Flyers dominated the 2003 draft by selecting a pair of franchise centers in Richards and Jeff Carter (and eventually trading for No. 7 pick Braydon Coburn). Richards was the second of Philadelphia's first-rounders in '03, going No. 24 overall.
Why He's On My List
Not only has he been a point-per-game player the past two seasons, Richards is also one of the best defensive forwards in the NHL and one of the most dangerous penalty-killers in terms of creating offense, finishing in the top-five in shorthanded goals three years in a row. He narrowly lost out to Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk for the Selke Trophy this season, falling just three votes short. It's probably not the last time he'll be nominated.
Obligatory YouTube Video
Richards sets the NHL record for three-on-five goals, scoring against the New York Rangers.