It is certainly no secret that the Toronto Maple Leafs will, like a lot of other teams, be in the market for a number one center this off season and the most coveted potential acquisition is pending unrestricted free agent Brad Richards.
It has been speculated that the Richards camp will be demanding a contract in the neighborhood of 8.5 million over five plus years.
While there is no reason to think he won't get it, because he will, would this type of contract make sense for Brian Burke and the Toronto Maple Leafs?
In a word, no.
There is no reason for the Leafs to not go after Richards, but with the ever growing crop of young players in the system, there is simply no reason for Burke to make a deal with anyone that isn't tailor-made for him.
It would make much more sense for Burke to really overpay Richards on a short term contract, perhaps three years plus a mutual option, than it would to lock him up with a risky contract.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are finally on the right road, and nothing takes the wind out of the sail in terms of developing a team in the NHL like a bad contract or two.
Richards may be the only true number one center on the open market but that doesn't mean there aren't others to be had. When it comes down to it no one is untouchable for the right price with the possible exception of Vancouvers' Henrik Sedin and even then only because he would come with an extra contract.
There are several players in the NHL that would satisfy the Toronto Maple Leafs need for a number one center, here we have a look at some of them and whether or not the might make sense for this young team.