Despite the fact that the Stanley Cup Playoffs are ongoing, the biggest news among teams who aren't competing likely came out of Texas yesterday, where the Dallas Stars announced that they would not be issuing a contract offer to pending unrestricted free agent Brad Richards, and would entertain offers to acquire his negotiating rights. Many fans have since pondered whether their team could get its hands on Richards (especially the Leafs, and rumour-sites out there fed right into their speculation), so let's not be any different: Could the Senators acquire Richards?
The answer is yes, they could, but it's followed by a more pressing query: Would the team be willing to give up what it would take to get him? It's unlikely Dallas will let Richards get to free agency, instead they'll probably choose to trade his rights, to Ottawa would have to win the auction to trade for him. It's unclear what that price would be, but the last time a big deal for an expiring contract like this was done, the Calgary Flames traded Jordan Leopold (a solid defenceman) and a third-round pick to the Florida Panthers for Jay Bouwmeester's rights. Richards will be more popular than that, so you can bet his price will be higher; still, with all the draft picks the Senators have, they might be able to put together a convincing package of the late first-rounder they received from the Nashville Predators and one of the second-rounders the team has, as long as they're given the freedom to discern Richards' intentions of signing in Ottawa, and what his asking price would be.
Speaking of asking prices, a decision like this one can't really be made without considering the salary cap repercussions involved. The Senators have ample cap room to sign Richards, who made $7.8M this season, and could desperately use the boost he would give to Ottawa's centre ice position. It would mean Ottawa would have a one-two punch of Richards and Jason Spezza down the middle, a combo that few teams in the league could match (the Pittsburgh Penguins likely being the only team with a better top two centremen). If Ottawa could then rid themselves of either one of their expensive defensive contracts, preferably Filip Kuba's, the team would be laughing.
But then again, we're in the midst of the Senate Reform. Do we want to trade away some valuable assets for the future of the franchise to get the chance of improving the current standing of the team--a team which still has some serious issues that Richards would not solve, including a huge lack of scoring wingers and some very suspect defence? Richards is 31 years old, and will be on the downslope of his career within a few seasons--but any contract he'd sign will likely be rewarding both in terms of dollars and term, so if he comes to Ottawa, he'd be an expensive fixture in the team's budget. Is Ottawa really one player away from contention? If so, is Brad Richards that player?
Links after the jump.
- The Ottawa Senators could have their new coach hired as early as next week. (Citizen)
- To try and spark their offence, Binghamton Senators head coach Kurt Kleinendorst shuffled the lines for practice yesterday. Mike Hoffman moves up to the top line with Ryan Keller and Ryan Potulny, while Zack Smith is bumped to the second line between Kaspars Daugavins and Jim O`Brien. Roman Wick is also out with injury, so David Dziurzynski will step in. (Press & Sun Bulletin)
- A look at the last-minute "close call" from game three between the Binghamton Senators and Houston Aeros, where it appeared Bingo had tied the game. (SensTV)
- Colin Greening recently signed a three-year contract with Ottawa, but hasn't had much success in the playoffs with just one goal and three assists. (Sun)
- The Calgary Flames hired former Senators head coach Craig Hartsburg as an assistant on their team. I think he'll do well in that role. (Matchsticks and Gasoline)
- And former Ottawa Senators forward Kevin Dineen was named head coach of the Florida Panthers. (Litter Box Cats)
- Apparently Dany Heatley had a broken hand an a high-ankle sprain by the end of the playoffs. He still looked terrible, and Elliotte Friedman warns that he may be following down Wade Redden's path to ignominy. (CBC)
- Somehow Brian Elliott got a D- in his final "report card" for his time with the Colorado Avalanche. I'd expected whatever grade is lower than F. (Mile High Hockey)
- Worley looks at the "unfortunate situation" surrounding the ownership uncertainty in Dallas, and the sad reality that the situation will force them to deal away their top player. (Defending Big D)
- A stirring eulogy of the now-former Atlanta Thrashers from the no-longer-anonymous Matthew Gunning. (Bird Watchers Anonymous)
- How the Stanley Cup Final Did in Both NHL and Non-NHL Markets (Puck the Media)
- Alex Burrows somehow escaped suspension for his ridiculous finger bite. How one can say there is 'no conclusive evidence' in this boggles the mind. (SBNation)
- The again, the league has a long a storied history with players biting each other. Which is just embarrassing. (CBC)
- Something you'd probably never hear about in an Adnan-written Nuggets post: Sidney Crosby was cleared for off-ice workouts this week. (PensBurgh)
- Somehow the Calgary Flames bungled in handling their top prospect, so they were forced into trading Tim Erixon for "a handful of magic beans" to the New York Rangers. It would be like if Ottawa had to give away David Rundblad for next to nil, except Calgary has even fewer other prospects outside of their top guy. (Houses of the Hockey)