Brad Richards will have options

Whether it was Paul Holmgren’s intention or not, he has effectively altered the free agent landscape by shipping out two superstar salaries in Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. We don’t know for certain if the Flyers plan to pursue Brad Richards when he becomes a free agent on July 1, but yesterday’s clearing out of 18 years and over $100 million in salary commitments leads one to believe that they’ll be in on the Brad Richards bidding war. The two most mentioned suitors for Richards, up until yesterday afternoon, were the New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs. With the Flyers presumably entering the fold, Richards can sit back and watch the offers increase as he mulls his decision.

With news coming down that Richards has refused to waive his no-trade clause for the purposes of the Dallas Stars trading his rights, we know that he’ll be looking to go where he feels is the best fit for himself. Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk was understandably upset with Richards nixing any plans of moving his rights, but it’s the player’s right to veto any such transaction.

So where will Brad Richards end up signing?

The Rangers have been whispered as the most logical destination for the 31-year old impending UFA, based mostly on his past experience playing under John Tortorella in Tampa and the Rangers desperately seeking some help down the middle. A reunion with Tortorella sounds about as enticing as a reunion with an emotionally abusive ex-lover, but there is the whole ‘Richards won a Conn Smythe under Tortorella’ angle. The uncertainty of Chris Drury’s status could potentially throw a wrench into the team’s plans to land Richards, but Glen Sather has managed to shake himself free of a few of the cumbersome contracts he’s piled up in recent years.

We all figured the Philadelphia Flyers would be clearing some cap space in an effort to sign Ilya Bryzgalov, we just didn’t expect it would be done in such puzzling fashion. With Mike Richards off to L.A., we can safely eliminate the Kings from the Brad Richards race. The Bryzgalov deal quickly supplanted some of the cap space cleared by trading Richards and Carter, but the Flyers are left with a plethora of wingers. They should have enough room to seriously negotiate with Brad Richards’ camp.

Brian Burke and the Toronto Maple Leafs also figure to be in on the bidding war, even if they ultimately end up assuming a role of driving up Richards’ asking price. Burke covets a top tier centre, but one has to wonder if the foundation in Toronto and the lack of recent success will be a deterrent in Richards’ interest there. The advantage that Burke will have is cap space, whether or not he’ll break the bank for Richards remains to be seen. Dave “The Hammer” Shoalts of the Globe and Mail doesn’t think Burke will reach up to Richards’ rumoured asking price:

While it is thought Brad Richards, 31, will want a multiyear deal for somewhere around $8-million a year, those who know Burke well say he is not interested in paying that much. A number between $6-million and $7-million is more to his taste –and it appears the New York Rangers feel the same way, which should make for an interesting auction.

The Flyers’ flurry of moves means that Brad Richards and Tomas Vokoun will have their pick of the litter in terms of who to sign with. If I had to rank the aforementioned potential destinations in order of most likely to land Richards, I’d go Rangers, Flyers, and Leafs. There’s still lots of time for other teams to position themselves in this race, though.

Where do you think Richards lands?

Comments (12)

  1. Not to pile on Damien Cox again, but he apparently forgot his calculator at home and didn’t realise that the Kings can’t fit B. Richards under the cap once they re-sign Doughnuts.

  2. Philly makes zero sense. They’re only 7.5 million under the cap (one would think his cap hit will be around that), and they still have to sign Voracek, Simmonds, and a few other RFA’s. Voracek will likely command at least 1.5-2.5 mill per year, and Simmonds slightly less. Unless they ship out even more bodies, no way do they have the room.

  3. Yeah, no chance he ends up in Philly unless they clear some ridiculous amount of space. Like jason said, only 7.5 under the cap, with only 18 players under contract currently with the NHL club, that’s some serious holes to fill before they start making eyes at Richards.

  4. No way In the world doe’s Brad Richards go to the Rangers when he stated that he’s not Interested In playing there and only want to go to an legit cup contender I hope he can sign with Tampa Bay again!!

  5. sorry TO not happening, who wants to play for two arrogant yanks in the worst hockey market on earth, sure br would make them better but he would make anyone better.
    5 year plan of swapping around first round picks and signing random dudes is getting kicked down the road.
    At least burke got it together to give reimer a deal, but wilson couldnt figure he was the only reason they were near the playoffs… so he sent him down for just enough games for them to miss it, give bumisarek a raise while youre at it.
    Burke has to get him and will have to pay especially if an eastern team gets him that is one less playoff spot up for grabs
    Prediction: Leafs 10th, wilson fired, no matter what burke does

  6. Lets not forget about Tampa Bay. He has a lot of connections there and spends considerable time there. There’s a good chance he takes a little less salary to play for his former team and in a place he obviously likes, and with a playoff contender.

    As for Philly, it doesn’t make sense to dump two young quality centres for a 31 year old centre in the name of Brad Richards. Long term deals with no trade clauses tie the hands of teams, and Philly should think twice of doing the same with Brad Richards. Keep in mind they also need their new cap space to sign their RFA’s this year and again next year,

    Until Brad comes out and says where he wants to play and where he doesn’t, I don;t think one should say Toronto has low probability of signing him.

  7. Richards agent was on the radio today and said he and Richards both want this to be his final contract. He is 31, so that probably means he is looking for a deal 7+ years. Burke has never given out a deal longer than 5 years, and has said he doesn’t believe in long-term deals. Not sure Richards wants to play in Toronto either, after spending his entire career in TB & Dallas, not show he’d like to start playing in a media circus.

    Flyers only have $7 million cap space, and have to sign Simmonds & Voracek. Then they will have to resign Lenio.

    TB keeps getting mentioned, and if he goes there he will have to sign a super long deal with a low salary at the end to bring the cap hit down. But then they might not have enough cap space for Stamkos and could risk losing him.

    I agree LA is out of it…

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Winnipeg shocks everyone and puts together a big offer. They have cap space and could want to help excite the fans. But I have a heard time believing he goes to Winnipeg.

    The Rangers are the logical option because they have some cap space (especially if they buyout or bury Drury in the minors), Richards likes Torts, and Sather has no problem handing out big deals. He probably ends up in NY with the Rangers.

  8. Isn’t it common knowledge that one of the reason he accepted a trade out of Tampa in the first place was because of Tortorella? And for that reason I think the rangers are not an option for Richards.

  9. I dont see the Rangers signing him with theyr Drury situation,and i like hearing about the problems of signing him to Philly,heres the best chance Burke has at turning the Leafs around,i think he knows something has to happen next season.

    “When the time comes, if that’s an option, Toronto’s always a No. 1 hockey destination,” … “It would be great being a Canadian playing in Toronto, but we’re not even close to that bridge yet.”

  10. just a hunch that Burke may pull something out here… Philly doesn’t have the cap space and who knows how close the Leafs where landing either Carter or Richards. the Rangers are the odds-on favorite but that depends on how they unload Drury’s contract.

  11. Brian Thiesen does not know what he is talking about.

  12. Brian thiesen doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

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