Expectations are never too high for a 3rd round pick.
Tanner Richard, a crafty Swiss playmaker drafted out of the OHL in 2012, was never expected to be a a world-beating prospect; a competent top-6 AHLer with an outside shot at developing into a solid NHLer one day, sure, but not the type of prospect you hang your hat on.
After two middling seasons in the AHL with the Syracuse Crunch, however, it's looking less and less like Richard will ever make the big club.
Here's how the panel ranked Tanner Richard:
|Kyle Alexander||John Fontana||Mike Gallimore||GeoFitz4||Brett Frieman|
Previous Ranks: 2013 (#19), 2014 (#23)
Richard missed my list entirely, and barely squeaked onto two others, falling in our overall ranks for the second consecutive year.
His second season in the AHL did see a significant uptick in point production -- from 2 goals, 15 assists a year ago to 13 goals and 25 assists in 70 games this past season, but he failed to take a big step into the gap created by Vlad Namestnikov's absence in the lineup, leaving the season feeling overall like a big disappointment.
Syracuse was starved for scoring all year long, particularly down the middle, but Richard was often outplayed by journeyman captain Mike Angelidis or guys like Ryan Martindale and Kevin Lynch, players specifically targeted to step into the Syracuse lineup to fill the role Richard should have been able to claim for himself.
The offense he offered as a junior player simply hasn't materialized in the AHL, which doesn't bode well for him becoming an NHL scorer one day. Instead, his path will be to, like Cedric Paquette, grit-and-grind his way into a regular shift. 135 penalty minutes in 70 AHL regular season games is a step in that direction, though he was just as likely to take a mind-numbingly dumb stick foul as he was to get feisty and draw matching minors in prototypical "pest" fashion.
The crew over at Bolt Prospects seem more optimistic on Richard maybe developing into an NHL pest:
Making a classic transition from junior scorer to pro grinder, Tanner Richard made great strides in his sophomore campaign with Syracuse of the AHL. Coming out of Guelph in the OHL as a talented playmaker who seemingly sneezed assists at will, Richard has morphed into a pesky, physical two-way centerman with the Crunch. Although he only possesses average size, the Swiss-born forward shows impressive edge and tenacity and a penchant for crawling under his opposition's skin.
There's still a chance for Richard, but this bit from last year's Top 25 Under 25 post seems worth mentioning again:
The upside and the skillset are still there, and with another full off-season of training and a better understanding of the level of competition and the demands of the pro game, Richard will hopefully rebound in his second year with the Crunch.
Again, we're "hoping" for a rebound or some more development. Unfortunately, we just haven't seen it yet from Richard. Now entering the final year of his entry-level contract, he will presumably get one more AHL season -- battling the likes of newcomers like Matt Peca for ice time -- to try and show he deserves a second contract.