Dallas is saying goodbye to their star center.
Brad Richards’ agent, Pat Morris, gave the New York Daily News some details on Monday night:
“The Stars have not asked Brad to waive his no-trade clause, and at this point in time, he has no intention of doing so,” agent Pat Morris told the Daily News Monday night when informed that a source had said a move to the Toronto Maple Leafs could be completed by the end of this week. “We’re still pointing toward July 1.”
The Daily News goes on to say that the Leafs remain the team to beat in the Richards derby:
A source told The News Monday night that the Maple Leafs felt close enough to making such a deal that they already have plans in place for subsequent moves to clear salary-cap room for Richards, who made $7.8 million this season.
“It’s legit,” the source said. “Toronto is desperate for a star like this.”
The Rangers remain linked to Richards through their head coach, John Tortorella, who coached Richards in Tampa. The Lightning, whom Richards won a Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe trophy with back in 2004, are also in the speculative market.
Meanwhile, Mark Stepneski of ESPN reports that while the Stars are out of the running to retain their star center, GM Joe Nieuwendyk has a plan B already in place:
One of the priorities for 2011-12 is a top six forward with it becoming clear now that Richards will hit the free agent market and will not be back with the team. Nieuwendyk said that top six forward might come through a trade rather than overspending on one in free agency.
“I think we need a top 6 forward with Brad obviously moving on,” Nieuwendyk said. “Jamie [Benn] shifting to center is a very likely scenario. It’s not 100 percent set in stone yet. If you’ve Benner and Loui [Eriksson] and you’ve got [Mike Ribeiro] and Brenden [Morrow], there’s your top two (lines)and you fill in around them.”
While adding Alex Goligoski at last season’s trade deadline was a major boost to the defense, Nieuwendyk said adding a top defenseman is a focus as well.
“We’d like to improve our defense for sure,” he said. “Again, it may be through trade.”
Depth is another priority. It’s an area that hurt the Stars last season and something that has paid dividends for teams that have gone deep in the playoffs.
That might seem like a lot of work for the Stars, but it shows what kind of impact a big contract like Richards’ can have on a team. With his $7.8 million off the books, Nieuwendyk suddenly has the ability to change the complexion and depth of his entire roster. Any team that takes on Richards is going to lose much of their wiggle-room for a long time, a problem that Buffalo Sabres Nation has touched on before.
Still, some team out there will think Richards is worth the riches.
See also: “Target: Brad Richards.“