he will be playing 18 minutes a night... line designation aside, he's going to see a lot of ice. in a theoretical sense he's the "3rd line center" simply because he's going to have two-way responsibility. however, he's going to have at least one decent offensive winger this season.
a limiting factor for his offensive totals will be the fact that he'll be a KEY penalty killer and thus eat up a decent portion of his time out there in non-scoring situations.
he and Carter are the key to this season being a good one. Richards needs to further improve his defensive and offensive play, and Carter needs to provide consistent secondary scoring for this club.
I could really see him starting to eat away at Carter's ice-time in scoring situations, and even on the PP at some points. However, like Jester said, his PK time is probably going to limit that. He and Carter should be looked at as 2a and 2b.