Nashville moves on from Anthony Richard

The organization acquired Jimmy Huntington in return.

On Tuesday, the Nashville Predators announced they traded forward Anthony Richard to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for forward Jimmy Huntington.

Richard, Nashville’s fourth-round pick at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, first played for the organization in 2016-17 after wrapping up an illustrious junior career with the QMJHL’s Val-d’Or Foreurs. Over seven seasons, Richard appeared in 322 regular-season AHL games and scored 79 goals and 152 points. The small but speedy forward will finish his career in Milwaukee third on the Admirals’ all-time games-played list (as an AHL franchise) and 11th in points.

In his sophomore and junior AHL seasons, Richard broke out for 19 and 24 goals, respectively, and earned his first NHL appearance in the 2018-19 season. But since then, his career has been full of ups and downs, regressing to just 23 total points in 2019-20 before bouncing back to be a key piece of last year’s Chicago Wolves’ combined roster. This season, Richard has managed just seven goals and 12 points in 31 games; seven of those points have been primary ones at even strength.

Going into this season, it felt clear that it was make-or-break time for Richard, and when I asked Admirals’ head coach, Karl Taylor if he agreed, he commented:

“When you have players that start getting one-year contracts, I think every year becomes that. Richie’s been here for a while, and he’s comfortable in Milwaukee, but he wants to be in the NHL. I would say the finish of his last season in Milwaukee...he was probably a little disappointed with how it went. He seems a little more mature in his approach this year, and we have great expectations for how he plays here,” added the coach. “I’d like to see him be a guy that knocks on the door and reopens people’s eyes, gets another look, and makes people reconsider him.”

In Huntington, Nashville is receiving a natural center that’s solid defensively and two years younger than Richard. The Laval native went undrafted but signed as a free agent with the Lightning after putting up 40 goals and 92 points playing alongside Alexis Lafrenière in the QMJHL in 2018-19

Since then, Huntington has plodded along in the AHL with two short stints in the ECHL the past two seasons. This year, he’s scored six goals and 12 points in 27 games for the Syracuse Crunch. He won’t replace the speed that Richard brought to the Admirals’ lineup but may have a little more room to grow in terms of offensive creativity and his scoring punch.

Huntington has a cap hit of $809,166 and is a restricted free agent after this season.

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