Rangers general manager Glen Sather states that he is not yet done "tinkering" with the lineup and there are several names out there in which he has been linked to. One of those is Brad Richards of the Dallas Stars who, with Gagne headed to Tampa, is probably at the top of the list of most likely to be acquired by the Blueshirts. It is a deal that would make sense for several reasons.
Richards, now age 30, had an outstanding season with the Stars last year, notching 24 goals and 91 points in 80 games played. His 67 assists are indicative of his playmaking style and there is no doubt his passing abilities are far superior to many in the game. In fact, compared to the prior season, Brad doubled his assist totals this year and had an all-around better performance in 2009-10. That begins with his health as he only missed two games, playing 98 percent of the season.
The Blueshirts have been suffering from first line center syndrome ever since Michael Nylander was not a part of the team anymore. No one seemed to ever fill his spot, no matter who coaches tried there. Now, with Marian Gaborik on the right wing, it is crucial that Sather finds him a guy that can get him the puck. Sure he has Vinny Prospal, but Vinny is by no means keeping up with Marian and is not the ideal centerman for him. Richards would be and head coach John Tortorella probably already knows that.
Continue reading after the jump....Tortorella is very fond of Richards since they spent some time together with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Torts used Richards as his go-to center instead of Vincent Lecavalier back then, which just goes to show the respect Tortorella had for him. Among the advantages of bringing in Richards would be that Tort knows his capabilities, Richards knows the coach's system, and he knows what Tortorella is going to expect from him. It would be like two long lost friends meeting up again in the workplace and quickly picking up on their chemistry where they left off.
Fitting Richard's $7.8 million cap hit under the ceiling would be a challenge, but if Wade Redden is booted to the Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL) in training camp then it would become much easier. There is only one year remaining on Richard's contract so if he did not work out, the Blueshirts would not be stuck with him either.
As far as what they would have to give up, I would think Dallas would be seeking a defenseman of some sort and a prospect at least. The asking price could very well be greater, but I am just going based on the needs of the Dallas Stars. Losing Richards would hit the Stars hard, especially since Mike Modano's future there is uncertain, so they are going to want a halfway decent return.
I do not think an acquisition like this would make the Rangers complete contenders, but it would at least help from a lack of goal scoring aspect. If Marian Gaborik has another star on his line, trust me he will be absolutely unstoppable. I think that would be Sather's intentions if he did pursue Richards in the next few weeks.