NHL Free Agent Rumors: 5 Teams That Could Make a Run for Brad Richards

A.J. WarnerContributor IIIJune 6, 2011

NHL Free Agent Rumors: 5 Teams That Could Make a Run for Brad Richards

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    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

    As the Dallas ownership still waits in limbo, with things looking like they will not get settled within the next few months, Brad Richards is going to be looking for a new home this summer.

    After two consecutive seasons averaging over one point per game, Richards is going to be looking for the big money over the long term.

    While the Rangers and Leafs have constantly been in the rumor mill with interest to sign him, let's take a look at five other teams that may be willing to take a stab. 

Detroit Red Wings

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    DETROIT - MAY 4:  Pregame ceremonies before Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals between the San Jose Sharks and the Detroit Red Wings included an octopus dropping from the scoreboard and skaters with flags during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playo
    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    As surprising as this sounds, according to ESPN insider, the Red Wings are interested in signing Richards to a short-term contract.

    Ideally they would like to structure it in a way similar to Marian Hossa a couple of years ago: nice money in a one-year deal.

    The ability to sign Richards is due to  Brian Rafalski's retirement with one year and $6 million dollars left on his contract. Since he signed the contract before he turned 35, the number will not count against the cap.

    Assuming this rumor is true, it seems the Wings think there D is fine with Jonathan Ericsson, Niklas Kronwall, Brad Stuart and hopefully Nicklas Lidstrom. I think that sounds fine, too. 

    Imagine Pavel Dastyuk together with Richards, two of the biggest wizards in the league. It would be a pleasure to watch. 

Los Angeles Kings

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 03:  Anze Kopitar #11 of the Los Angeles Kings skates the puck into the Phoenix Coyotes zone in the second period during the NHL game at Staples Center on March 3, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Kings defeated the Coyotes 1-0
    Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

    For the past few years, everyone has been saying that the Kings are just one star forward away from being a championship contender.

    This past trade deadline, they acquired the highly overrated Dustin Penner to play on a line with Anze Kopitar. Aside from Kopitar breaking his ankle in the last week of the season, Penner was not providing the offence that the Kings expected.

    Many believe that highly touted prospect Brayden Schenn is the answer to the Kings' offensive woes, but I am sure that if Los Angeles found a way to fit Richards under the cap they would do it. Look how hard they tried to get Ilya Kovalchuk last season, and they may actually feel that Richards is a better fit.

    It may be difficult with superstar Drew Doughty up for a new contract, but I am sure they will take a look at their salary cap options. 

Dallas Stars

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    GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 29:  Brad Richards #91 of the Dallas Stars during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on March 29, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Coyotes defeated the Stars 2-1 in an overtime shoot out.  (Photo by Christian
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Due to their ownership woes, the Dallas Stars are no longer considered to be the favorites in the Brad Richards sweepstakes. Yet I am sure that they are weighing their options, hoping that they can move enough salary so they could keep him.

    In order for this to happen, Richards would need to be willing to take a cut in the length of his contract.

    While I doubt that would happen, it does not mean the Stars will not try. A possible move that we may see this summer, is the Stars opening up salary constraints and trading Mike Ribeiro. He makes $5 million, and only has one more year left on his deal.

    After scoring 71 points in a second line role last season, I am sure there will be teams looking to upgrade at center with the other star from Dallas. 

Winnipeg Jets/Thrashers

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    GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 20:  Fans dressed in Winnipeg Jets uniforms attend Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals between the Detroit Red Wings and the Phoenix Coyotes during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Jobing.com Arena on April 20, 2011
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    After 15 long years, the league is finally returning to Winnipeg! What better way to celebrate than to acquire the No. 1 free agent on the market.

    Sounds crazy? Well one of the reasons I think this might be a real possibility is because the Thrashers/Jets need to spend $11 million in order to reach the suspected cap floor.

    Assuming they will not be among the lowest spending franchises—which they probably seeing as how they have already sold 13,000 season tickets—they should have around $20 million to spend.

    Signing a high-priced free agent is a great way to show the fans that you mean business.  

Ottawa Senators

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    ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 27: Jason Spezza #19 of the Ottawa Senators skates against the Atlanta Thrashers at the Philips Arena on March 27, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Thrashers defeated the 5-4 in the shoot out.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    With the rumors swirling that the Senators are extremely interested in moving Jason Spezza, it would not be a surprise to see them replace him with another superstar talent.

    Eugene Melnyk is not the type of owner that will sit around waiting for a rebuilding period.

    With Daniel Alfredsson's talents rapidly diminishing, and Sergei Gonchar playing like a shell of his former self, the Sens are looking at being at the bottom of the East for a few more seasons.

    That is, unless they can bring in some players like Richards.