NHL Trade Speculation: 10 Teams That Will Try To Bid on Brad Richards
When the league watches a heavy-duty contract, such as Brad Richard's, expire, when the team does not extend, so many questions are posed, and often times not answered until the following off-season when free agency rolls in.
Brad Richards, who was paid 7.800 million dollars in each of the past two years, as spent the past three and a half seasons in the Dallas Stars sweater. However, considering the Stars opted out of renewing the star forward's contract, there are several teams who will be in the hunt during the off-season to lock down a power forward like Richards.
Here is my list of 10 possible new homes for Richards come this off-season and the free agency that it comes with.
Alphabetically speaking, Atlanta is our first stop on our tour of possible new homes for Brad Richards and all his talent next year.
Atlanta has a very young, pretty inexpensive lineup in terms of forwards, with the most expensive forward, Nik Antropov, costing a 4.062 salary cap hit.
The Thrashers have several offensively productive defenders, specifically Byfuglien and Enstrom, however the power and impressive talent of Brad Richards could help out the somewhat struggling offense that Atlanta houses.
For teams that ended their 2010-2011 season in the basement of their respective divisions, or the bottom portion of the conferences, well out of the playoff race, they could be seeking for some dramatic changes come this off-season.
The Colorado Avalanche are one such team.
Colorado ended the season in a disappointing 14th rank in the West and 29th out of the 30 NHL teams. Now, let me clarify something, I am not saying that simply signing Brad Richards would solve all of the problems that the Avs have, but with a huge name like him to help Matt Duchene out offensively, it could dramatically help. They have the cap space, so I could see Colorado pursuing Richards.
For the team that was the only group behind Colorado in the standings, Edmonton could really look for an offensive giant and Richards could be a bulls eye for the Oilers and their struggling offensive production.
The Edmonton Oilers are a team with a safe amount of cap space in order to sign a big contract for a guy like Brad Richards, and adding that veteran presence could help to mature younger players, like Jordan Eberle, into franchise players. Richards could possibly end up in Edmonton, and he could be a key component in Edmonton's complete reconstruction.
When it comes to the Eastern Conference, not only is it a different type of hockey, but it's a different emphasis entirely. That difference explains why some players who flourish in the East don't succeed in the West, and vice versa.
However, in terms of the Florida Panthers, who finished the season in the East's last place, they seem pretty willing to overlook the East-West gap and take a chance on a star player like Richards. The Panthers have many players who are going to be free agents this off-season, and could very easily let some of the underachievers walk in favor of some bigger names, bigger point totals, and bigger salaries. Florida could very easily target Richards to help fill a void.
Los Angeles Kings
With the Los Angeles Kings, we come to the first team on the list who has made the playoffs with the group they already have suited up. However, back before the trade deadline, there were rumors that Richards could be headed out West to LA.
Soon, LA faces an uncertain off-season, and have a few different unrestricted free agents they could let walk in order to build up enough cap space for a power forward like Richards. Considering how the Kings is a team that consistently is tied to trade rumors for such players as Ilya Kovalchuk and Brad Richards, it's no surprise they make the list, in hopes of giving Anze Kopitar a little help offensively.
For a team that has very little cap space, it is kind of expected for a team to have a strong core of players, and a great group dynamic, or a strong enough team to at least get into the post-season, a feat that the Wild did not manage this year.
Minnesota is home to two strong forwards in Martin Havlat and Mikko Koivu, however they could very easily end up letting some of their soon-to-be free agents go in favor of bringing in the bigger fire power, such as that named Brad Richards. In short, Richards could help to fill a gap in Minnesota that can take this team to a whole different level of talent.
The Nashville Predators are more seen as a successful team not because they can outscore their opponent, but more because their goalies and defense lineup are both so strong that they can be stingy and keep their opponents to just one or two goals at most.
Nashville has some impressive talent with two players with over 20 goals, and two players with 50 points each, however they could really benefit and dominate games by adding a player, like Richards, who scored over 75 points this season, 28 of which were goals.
New Jersey Devils
For a team, like the Devils, who spent most of the season in the basement of the Eastern Conference and only climbed to the 11th seed in the final push of the regular season, a major reconstruction is expected to take place in the off-season.
When you see the roster that the Devils have, including such stars as Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrik Elias, it's a little bit of a shock that the New Jersey team couldn't make it into the post-season. Kovalchuk was expected to be a superstar, hence his uncommonly large contract, however this year was a year of underachieving and with just 60 points in the regular season, Kovalchuk might end up getting some help from another big name, Brad Richards if the Devils can make enough moves to free up the cap space.
New York Islanders
The Islanders are a very young team, with the average age of their players under 27 years old. Not to mention this is a team with a huge amount of available cap space, over 18 million remaining, meaning they have plenty of room to sign a big, successful, veteran player such as Brad Richards.
The New York Isles found themselves just one place above the worst team in the East, and well out of the playoff race, meaning a strong veteran presence might just be what the Islanders are looking for this off-season. All in all, Richards could be the answer to the Islanders fans' prayers.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The tenth, and final team, on our list are the Toronto Maple Leafs, who seem to be in a constant rebuilding period for several years under the management of Brian Burke. The Maple Leafs have four strong forwards, all with more than 50 points, but aside from that there is a jump to the lower point-producing players.
The Leafs could really benefit by bringing in a power forward like Brad Richards from Dallas, and with all of the free agents that they have to choose from this off season, they can let some of them go from their roster and lower their cap hit in order to accommodate a bigger contract like the one that Richards would bring in.