The debate over where Dallas superstar center Brad Richards will play next season is heating up again after Richards basically said goodbye to the Dallas fans via twitter Saturday night. Many teams are in the hunt for his services of course but the Leafs and Rangers were thought to be the front runners. That is until it became known Brad preferred to play in a less Media Crazed city then the bright lights of NY or Toronto. Well, let’s change that thought one more time shall we. Last week, Richards’ agent Pat Morris stated to the Toronto Star that his client, “had interest in any team that had interest in him.” He made a point to state that this included the very real possibility that Brad could sign with, “a premier Canadian city.” Suggesting the ACC very well could be home for the veteran forward come September camp.
The fact Richards has said he didn’t want to play in a hockey hotbed fuels the thoughts that he would go back to Tampa. He has stated he would consider playing there again after playing arguably his best hockey in that uniform while also winning a Stanley Cup in 2004. Why wouldn’t he want to play there? They are on the rise, Yzerman has shown he has a plan and is implementing it to a T. The only question is, would Richards sign for less? With Lecavalier making over $7m and St.Louis now just over $5m you then have to account for resigning Gagner (3-5m?) Stamkos (5-6m if lucky) and a handful of other FA’s… you can see how this could be a tough man to get in the mix. So, if they really want him they have to shuffle someone out. The easiest solution seems to be to no resign Gagner. He is oft injured and although he did pot 40+ pts in his shortened season, Richards is a huge upgrade. There have also been light rumblings of Gags heading back to Philly so this would seem to fit. If this was the case would we see Stamkos move to the wing? Would Gagner walking FA even free up enough cash to sign Richards AND resign Stamkos is a better question.
There is also the possibility that Lecavalier is finally dealt after a plethora of rumors over the past few years. This would allow the Lightning to sign Richards and essentially replace what some feel is a star on the downslide. I can’t see this scenario happening for a few reasons. Mainly I don’t believe Vinny is done and I don’t believe Yzerman does either. Also Lecavalier and Richards are best friends so I would think at this point in his career if Brad Richards was choosing to go back to the Lightning it would be with assumptions that he would be playing with Vinny again as well.
Try this one on for size, what if Stamkos asks for a deal similar to what we saw Sidney Crosby sign when he came out of his entry level deal. (Sid signed for 43 mil and change over 5 years) No matter what way you flip it he is likely in the range of 7-8 million at least. What if he sticks to it and they have to let someone go just to resign him let alone sign Richards.
This is where I come back to the Leafs.. If Burke really wants to make his splash there is no better time. He could orchastraight a strong arm trade with the Lightning for Stamkos similar to the way he got Kessel out of Boston. Or he could get creative and somehow land the overpaid but not out of the question Lecavalier which would likely convince Mr. Richards that something special may be happening in T.O.
No matter how you spin it, with the UFA market slim this year when it comes to top line centers, Burke has his work cut out for him if he wishes to improve his club via the FA/trade market this summer.
You heard it here!