One of the hottest names in the rumor mill this season has been Brad Richards of the Dallas Stars. The 30-year old has been one of the most productive players of the Stars lineup, leading the team in both points, assists, and shots taken, while being ranked just second in goals. So why has the name of this Star center been thrown around so many times? Mainly because his price tag is about to increase again seeing as he is an unrestricted free agent come this Summer. Richards is starting to get noticed more as an aging Star, and with the expected age of retirement approaching, he's looking to lock down a multi-year contract that the Stars could shy away from. So what are some other options for Brad Richards? Here's just five of the choices, that I personally see most possible.
The first possibility, and in my opinion the most likely option, is that Brad Richards stays in Dallas not just until the end of this season, but also for at least another two or three seasons, perhaps all the way until he hangs up his jersey for good. With Richards helping propel the team into the second best seat in the Western Conference, it's not likely that the Stars will be looking to shed his heavy salary anytime soon. If the ownership issues get settled before the February 28th trade deadline, I'm absolutely expecting Richards to still sport the Stars sweater.
A second option for the Dallas center is to stay with Dallas just until the off-season, and if the ownership issues continue until then for the Stars, Richards might pack up and leave for another franchise that offers him a stable, longer-term deal. There have been rumors about a few teams being interested in trading for Brad Richards, we will get to those in the next three slides, but so long as he continues to be a productive and important asset to the Stars and he gives them hope to reaching not only the post-season, but also maybe the finals, I don't think he will be traded this season. If his contract demands are too high, Dallas might see him walk for little to no compensation before next season, but I don't see him leaving Dallas before the trade deadline.
If Dallas starts to dip in the standings and successes this season, they could turn into "sellers" at the trade deadline, meaning they wouldn't mind dumping a large contract and veteran player in favor of some younger talent. The team that has been tied most commonly to Richards is the New York Rangers. The Rangers have been stuck in the middle of the Eastern Conference, and could be interested in trading some younger talented defenders to acquire a solid first-line center like Richards. If Brad Richards does get traded to the Rangers, I'm expecting Dallas to acquire some players like Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, or Matt Gilroy, along with some other perks like draft picks, in return.
If some sort of disaster hits Dallas, and they tank in the standings, Brad Richards could be interested in being traded to LA, and considering he has the no-trade clause in his current contract, he has a say in where he would be sent to. If the Stars are projected to miss the nod for the post-season (again it would take a big disaster striking for it to happen at this point), they could consider trading Richards for some young talent, making the choice to rebuild during the end of this season and the beginning of next. I really don't see Richards throwing on the Kings jersey anytime soon, simply because if the Stars stay in the running for a solid playoff seat, they will try their best to hold onto Brad Richards.
An unlikely, yet still fathomable, option is a trade involving Brad Richards going to the Atlanta Thrashers. The main reason that Atlanta is the final one on this list is because of the amount of young talent that are currently clad in Thrasher jerseys. The Stars, if they opt for a period of rebuilding, could see promise in trading Richards for a little clan of young players with a lot of potential. Also, Atlanta has a good deal of cap space, so if they dump any sizeable contract at all, they could offer Richards a longer contract with payments sooner, rather than later which he might be looking for.
So there are a few of the options that I see plausible for Brad Richards' future, however in my opinion, as long as he continues to play how he has been, he will be staying with the Stars for a while.