The Chicago Blackhawks filled their hole at second-line centre by securing the services of a veteran at a cut-rate price. Numbers Game looks at the Blackhawks signing Brad Richards. The Blackhawks Get: C Brad Richards. Richards, 34, has been a productive scorer throughout his career, but that productivity has waned as he approaches his mid-thirties. While he finished with a respectable 51 points in 82 games last season, that 0.62 points per game represented a career low and the second-lowest rate of his career was in 2012-2013, when he had 0.74 points per game. The downward trend is pretty clear at this point. He played 18:40 per game last season, his lowest average time on ice since his rookie season in 2000-2001. Given the massive contract that Richards had with the New York Rangers (nine years, $60-million), and the new recapture penalties that were imposed in the latest collective bargaining agreement, the Rangers had little choice but to buy out Richards, after paying him $33-million for the first three years of his deal. A long and productive career leaves Richards with few needs financially, so he went into his newfound free agency looking for a good fit and settled on joining the Blackhawks, a Stanley Cup contender who could use an upgrade at their second-line centre spot. In the past couple years, even as his point production has started to fall, Richards has had his zone starts tilted towards the offensive zone, with more than 65% of his shifts starting in the offensive zone. As a result, hes had strong possession stats, which may be enough to suggest that, even in decline, in a sheltered role, Richards would be an upgrade on Michal Handzus as Chicagos number two centre. In Chicago, there is a good opportunity for Richards to have a productive year. Any combination of the Blackhawks top scoring wingers includes Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad, so playing with two of them ought to give Richards a chance to have decent even-strength production. Whether Richards can match last seasons scoring totals, however, probably will have some dependence on power play production and, over the past couple seasons, Richards has really struggled to produce with the man advantage. Furthermore, Richards presence likely means that top Blackhawks prospect Teuvo Teravainen wont be starting the season in Chicago and that may be fine for his overall development, but if Teravainen shows that hes ready, it would be easy enough to see Richards bumped down the depth chart, as has happened from time to time with the Rangers over the past couple seasons. There is a benefit to the contract that Richards signed with Chicago -- a one-year, $2-million deal -- in that his declining production in New York was frequently contrasted with how much money the Rangers had tied up to get him. Now, Richards is a bargain signing and if he gives Chicago decent second-line production, he would bring a positive return on investment. Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook. Josh Sweat Jersey . The three Calgary natives will compete after the sport was skipped by the Vancouver Games in 2010 but later included on the program for Sochi, Russia. The fight to include womens ski jumping prior to Vancouver went to the courts only to have the Supreme Court of Canada rule against the athletes appeal in 2009. 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There were few surprises when Italy named its preliminary 30-man squad Tuesday but there will surely be more debate when seven players are cut. "Yes (Ive decided), but I want confirmation from them" Prandelli said in an interview published in Fridays Gazzetta dello Sport. "I havent thought about the starting XI: this will not be a World Cup of 11 players. "We need 23 resources, 23 players who think they will be among the first 11, focused only on the squad. Everyone has to understand they might play only one game. But it might be the game." Prandelli praised Giuseppe Rossi for making the provisional list, despite only just having returned from a four-month injury layoff due to a right knee injury. "I called him up because four and a half months ago, before his injury, he was the top goalscorer in Serie A and remained so for a few weeks after getting injured,"Prandelli said. "Thats a sign that he was doing something extraordinary. "His inclusion is a message for everyone: if you want something and fight and really try for it, you deserve a chance. Rossi is also a champion in his behaviour, that doesnt mean he will definitely be among the 23." Antonio Cassano was also on the list, despite not having played for Italy since helping the Azzurri to a runner-up finish at the 2012 European Championship, and he couldd make his World Cup debut after a fantastic season for Parma.dddddddddddd "When a player manages to redevelop in a positive way and get back in the running it is as if they have cancelled out all the negativity," Prandelli said. "The numbers are the numbers: beyond his pride and his motivation, in scoring and in assists, Cassano was a few yards ahead of the others." Italian media says Cassano is the alternative if Rossi is deemed not fit enough, with Mario Balotelli the only forward assured of his place in the squad. "Nobody is tied to anyone," the Italy coach said. "We will now have 10 days of physical work from which I also expect scientific answers, without having to rely only on feeling. Both could come: Im not ruling out anything." Prandelli also revealed he seriously considered including Francesco Totti, adding "I thought about him, before his injury he had extraordinary statistics. Then the younger players exploded and the future is theirs." Italys first World Cup match is against England on June 14. It also plays Costa Rica and Uruguay in Group D. The Azzurri are aiming for a record-equaling fifth World Cup triumph, two years after surprisingly reaching the final of the European Championship, where it was humiliated 4-0 by Spain. "I havent looked at who our potential opponents could be (in the knockout stages)," Prandelli said. "I know we have to pass the first round and then we have to organize in order to get to the final. I want to go to the final." 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