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Phantoms add another first-rounder

The Philadelphia Phantoms today signed center Mike Richards to an amateur tryout contact. The 6-foot, 192-pound forward was the Philadelphia Flyers’ first-round selection (24th overall) in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

“He’s a great kid, he’s a character kid, and he’s got a lot of skill to go along with it,” said Phantoms head coach John Stevens. “Probably his biggest quality is his competitiveness. He’s good on draws and makes a lot of plays out of nothing when it seems like nothing is there. He’s a hard guy to play against.

“Both he and Jeff Carter, they have come in here and are very cautious of the fact that they have joined the team late in the year, and they are very respectful of their surroundings. I think for that reason, he has easily integrated into our hockey team. There’s no question that the addition of Richards and Carter makes us stronger.”

Carter signed an ATO with the Phantoms on Apr. 14, and led the team with four goals in their first-round series win over Norfolk.

Richards, a Kenora, Ont., native, was named a Second Team OHL All-Star this season after recording 22 goals and 36 assists for 58 points and 75 penalty minutes in just 43 games for the Kitchener Rangers. At the time that Kitchener was eliminated from the OHL postseason, Richards was second in the league in playoff scoring with 11 goals and 17 assists for 28 points.

Also this season, the 20-year-old Richards captained the gold-medal-winning Team Canada in the World Junior Championships, which also included teammate and fellow Flyers first-round draft pick Carter. In six games, Richards had a goal and four assists for five points and a plus-6 rating.

Richards, who totaled 292 points (115g, 177a) in 233 career games with Kitchener from 2001-05, is expected to make his professional debut with Philadelphia on Wednesday when the team hosts the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at the Wachovia Center in Game One of the East Division Finals.