When you consider the prices free agents were getting Friday, maybe this was a good year for the Vancouver Canucks to be hamstrung by the salary cap.

The Canucks weren’t in on David Clarkson, who signed for $36.75 million. They weren’t in on Ryane Clowe, who signed for $24.25 million either.

They weren’t in on Matt Cullen, who signed for two years, $7 million.

In fact, they weren’t in on any impact players. Unless you count Boyd Gordon. But once the Edmonton Oilers offered $3 million a year over three years, they were out on him too.

The Canucks just didn’t have the cap space to be a player this year.

Instead, the Canucks were looking for value, and they got some with former L.A. Kings centre Brad Richardson who signed a two-year, $2.3 million contract with the Canucks.

Richardson, who was a healthy scratch in L.A. in 27 of the Kings’ first 29 games, was told he’d have every opportunity to be the Canucks third-line centre this season.

At best, this is a move about treading water. Even though Richardson struggled to stay in the lineup in Los Angeles, he compares favourably to Max Lapierre, the former Canuck who signed in St. Louis.

He may be an upgrade, but that depends on how well he does handling a third line role.

Without question, Richards is a valuable utility forward who can move up and down the lineup and can play either wing or centre.

“This is a guy we wanted for some time,” GM Mike Gillis said. “It still leaves us with a spot open for one of the young guys to come in and compete.

“The games he played against us, he was a very effective player. He was a very effective player when the (Kings) won the Stanley Cup.