But his play has fallen since then to the point where for the past two years he's been a third- or fourth-line center for the defending Stanley Cup champions.
The Kings tried to find a taker via the trade route over the past month, talking to Toronto, Calgary and Winnipeg among other teams, according to sources, but couldn't get a deal done.
Kings general manager Dean Lombardi confirmed there have been trade talks with other NHL clubs but obviously nothing materialized.
"There were a few things but I don't think they were attractive," Lombardi told ESPN.com on Monday.
Whether or not another NHL team would want to claim him on waivers before 12 p.m. ET Tuesday remains to be seen given what's left on his contract.
Should he clear waivers Tuesday, Richards will be sent down to AHL Manchester (barring a trade) where Lombardi views it akin to a veteran baseball hitter trying to find his swing again.
"I don't expect him to get picked up on waivers," Lombardi said. "But, there's still time here. He knows what he has to do. That part I am not questioning. The way the schedule is down there, it allows him to get his innings in and conceivably he could be back here. That's the way we're approaching this. That's the short term.
"On the long term, he could be a different player. If you remember when Teemu Selanne when he went to Colorado it looked like he was done. He looked done. But all of sudden things changed. He went on for a longer career. They're different players but I see no reason why this can't happen here, either."
The Kings GM also underlined the importance of Richards in the Kings' becoming a championship team. It's that bond that kept Lombardi from buying Richards out last summer when the window was closing on buying out contracts that wouldn't count against the salary cap.
"We don't win the first Cup without this guy," Lombardi said. "He set a tempo. There's still time here. I'm hoping that he's got to do what he's got to do to get going."
Richards, who turns 30 next month, has five more years after this season on a deal which carries a $5.75 million cap hit. His deal pays him $7 million this season, $6 million next season, then $5.5 million in 2016-17, $4.5 million in 2017-18, and $3 million each of the last two years.
The Kings need to create cap room to sign some of their players past this season.
"We understand it's a business, but in here, you're a family," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "So that's why it's really hard to see (Richards) go on waivers. ... As a group of guys who have won together, it's even harder."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.