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Toronto Maple Leafs & the Dallas Stars: Trading for Their Centre

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 02:  Brad Richards #91 of the Dallas Stars skates against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on April 2, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Smiley GimbelCorrespondent IMay 28, 2011

This spring and early summer, everyone is talking about Brad Richards' pending UFA status. People assume his bags are packed, and he's ready to go to Broadway. I think there's a great chance he'll resign with Dallas pending a trade. 

Lets look at Brad Richards primary options: 

New York

They'll have lots of room to sign Brad to a massive contract. They don't have to waive anyone, and they'll be able to resign their key players. Richards will have Marion Gaborik on his wing, and that's not too shabby providing Gaborik stays healthy.

Chance of happening on a scale of 1-10, I'll say 8

Tampa Bay

Not a chance. Stamkos needs resigning, and that'll be too many players in a mid-market team making 7+/year.

Chance of happening on a scale of 1-10, I'll say 1

Toronto

Let's assume rumors are correct, as inside sources suggest he dosn't wish to play out his career in Toronto. One thing that's overlooked is Brian Burke's power of persuasion. A huge contract starting about a million higher than the others would need to happen, of course. Playing on a line of Phil Kessel & Joffrey Lupal can't hurt Richards. That said, two things work against this—namely the length Richards would want, and the media attention Richards will want to avoid.

Chance of happening on a scale of 1-10, I'll say 3

Los Angeles

Actually not a bad destination for Richards as LAK's are moving up in the contention standings, it's warm and sunny, and he can avoid the media attention nicely. LA has the room to sign him nicely and it could be a good fit.

Chance of happening on a scale of 1-10, I'll say 7

Dallas

Well, we know for certain that he wanted to resign with Dallas. The question is, can Dallas resign him? Well, that actually isn't all that impossible. With the NHL cap in 2011/12 being in the $63 million neighbourhood, that means Dallas's floor will be around $43/44 million—very attainable. Dallas simply needs to shed some salary. No question, working the cap floor is every bit as hard as working the cap ceiling; however the team won't be penalized for going over a few million.  Plus, when the team's new ownership gets sorted out, things will stabilize.

Chance of happening on a scale of 1-10, I'll say 9

How can Toronto help?

Mike Ribeiro. 

At 31-years-old, Ribeiro could play between Kessel & Lupal and give the top line offense that Toronto needs in a centreman. Dallas would shed $5 million off their books to resign Richards.

Ribeiro being signed until 2013 would give Toronto some leeway in developing their younger centres like Joe Colborne or Greg McKegg, or any other young centreman they would be drafting this year. Does he come with warts? Sure does!  Ribeiro's defensive game wouldn't exactly mess with Kessel's defensive genius. That said, Ribeiro has shown a better defensive effort despite what his plus/minus stats have shown the last few years which could just be a reflection of team play. In 2007/8 he was an impressive plus-21.

Also, as a pass first centre, he would also need to learn to shot more. Bozak's prime mistake was his pass-to-Kessel-over-shooting mentality. He's got to keep them guessing.

He would also need to want to play in Toronto, as he has a list of 10 teams he can't be traded to. But let's assume for this article that Toronto's okay for Ribeiro. GM Joe Nieuwendyk and Burke have a working relationship, seeing as Burke gave Nieuwendyk his managerial break. Maybe this trade would be a good fit for Toronto and Dallas?

Would Dallas miss Ribeiro? Maybe, but probably not as much as they'd miss Richards. Scott Glennie might be able to step up this year into a second line centre role although he's primarily a winger. Perhaps Ondrej Roman could be given that shot splitting the second/third line duties with Steve Ott. Or they might be able to sign a second line centre such as Brooks Laich, Michael Nylander, Jason Arnott, Tim Connelly—if they're affordable at, say, under $3 million/year, which is entirely possible.

What would it take to get done? Well, surprising little. Off the roster—nothing, as Dallas doesn't want to add salary from Toronto's starting roster. I could see this happening for as little as the Philidelphia 3rd round pick that Toronto holds, and a midlevel prospect like Jerry D'Amigo or Christian Hanson. But nothing much more than than.  Remember Philidelphia's salary dump of Simon Gagne? Matt Walker and a 4th round selection is all it took. Granted Ribeiro is worth a bit more than Gagne, but there won't be many other takers for Ribeiro other than Toronto, and Richards needs to get signed in Dallas, so a dump is a dump. Maybe Philly's 3rd this year and Boston's 2nd next year?

What say you Leaf Nation? How about you Dallas Nation?  Would you want Ribeiro traded so that Dallas can resign Richards? Would you want Ribeiro in a Leafs uniform?

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