According to TSN, the Dallas Stars will not be offering center Brad Richards a new contract prior to July 1, leaving the door open for the Rangers to bring in the top-line pivot they so desperately need.
With ownership in question in Dallas, GM Joe Nieuwendyk announced the team would not pursue a new contract for Richards.
Richards, who signed a five-year, $39 million contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning before being dealt to the Stars, scored 28 goals and 77 points in 72 games last season.
The Stars, who opted to not trade the 31-year-old at the trade deadline, now must look to trade Richards’ negotiating rights to get something back for him.
The front-runners to land Richards appear to be the Los Angeles Kings, Toronto Maple Leafs and of course, the New York Rangers. Richards and coach John Tortorella have a history together, winning the Stanley Cup in 2004, with Richards being awarded the Conn Smythe.
The Rangers don’t have much to offer up in terms of draft picks to acquire Richards’ rights, especially following yesterday’s acquisition of Tim Erixon. Rumors have surfaced that Richards is not interested in a market where hockey is the world and the media is fierce. If that is true, that could spell doom for the Maple Leafs, but don’t look too deep into that.
Simply put, the Rangers have to sign Richards. The team not only lacks talent down the middle in the NHL, but doesn’t have much in the system either. Adding a talent like Richards to play with Marian Gaborik makes the team a contender in a wide-open Eastern Conference.