Rangers Need to Cautiously Pursue Richards

Today is D-Day for the Brad Richards negotiations.

Either Dallas Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk will trade him or or he'll keep him for a run at the playoffs and hope he can be re-signed. It's a tough decision for Nieuwendyk as there are plenty of moving parts and no clear right decision. The Stars ownership situation, although improving, is still in flux and will need to be resolved in order for Richards to be re-signed. The Stars are also hanging on by a thread in a tight playoff race in the Western Conference. To make matters even more difficult, Richards hasn't played since February 13th and is suffering from concussion like systems which has without a doubt adversely effected his trade value.

Nieuwendyk has likely found a willing trade partner in Glen Sather who is believed to be actively pursuing Richards. The Rangers need a center of his caliber both for the stretch run and in the future. He's the pivot that the Rangers had hoped Scott Gomez would be and he's the missing ingredient on what could be a Cup worthy team.

The benefit of acquiring Richards at the deadline is it will give the Rangers a leg up on contract negotiations come free agency; if he is traded, it's fair to assume that team will have the inside track on signing him long-term. It is for this reason that it is good for Sather to pursue Richards, but only on his own terms and if the price makes sense.

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It would be counter-productive to acquire Richards and ship out a key piece of the future like Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh, or Michael Del Zotto. It also wouldn't make sense to trade an established member of the Rangers core; Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, Dan Girardi, and Marc Staal, should all be untouchable. But if the Rangers can acquire Richards for a package consisting of Artem Anisimov, Matt Gilroy, a mid-level prospect, and a 1st round pick, a deal may make sense.

On a team that already has Stepan and Brian Boyle at center, Anisimov could find himself the odd-man out with the addition of Richards. The Stars will without a doubt want a young, NHL ready centerman and Artie fits the bill. Nieuwendyk would obviously prefer Stepan, but remember, these negotiations will be on Glen Sather's terms. The Rangers are interested in Richards, but they aren't desperate. New York is already a choice landing spot this summer. Richards has already shared a Stanley Cup Championship with John Tortorella and the two reportedly still have a good relationship. The Rangers are also close to being legitimate Stanley Cup contenders, with Richards himself being the key missing piece.

It's not the end of the world if Sather can't acquire Richards by 3 pm today. But overpaying and moving a vital piece of the future would be sure seem to be. Sather needs to cautious, especially since this isn't a make or break season. The Rangers are building towards next year and whatever they can accomplish this season is gravy.

It will be an interesting couple hours today and hopefully this story isn't already out of date by the time it is published.

Agree? Disagree? Feel free to email me canyonofblueshirts (at) gmail.com.