Brad Richards is in the last year of his deal with the Dallas Stars and is scheduled to become a free agent July 1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Damien Cox of the Toronto Star recently reported the Maple Leafs want to be in on the bidding for Dallas Stars center Brad Richards “if there is any.”
Leafs GM Brian Burke would reportedly like a chance to negotiate with Richards, who's eligible for unrestricted free agency on July 1, and perhaps offer him a seven- or eight-year contract, something Burke has in the past been unwilling to offer anyone.
Cox believes it's understood Richards “will go north of $7 million, and possibly $8 million,” on his new contract. He also stated it remains to be seen what the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings – also thought to be interested in Richards – might do.
It's also possible Richards might not make it to July 1, as the Stars could re-sign him if their new ownership is in place by late June and willing to make the investment. If not, they could also shop his rights to the highest bidder.
Burke might be willing to offer a deal to Richards, but Richards might not be interested to join the Maple Leafs. Richards has expressed interest in remaining with the Stars, depending of course on their ownership situation.
It's rumored he'd also be keen to join the Rangers and play once again for John Tortorella, who coached Richards for several seasons in Tampa Bay, including during the Lightning’s 2004 Stanley Cup championship season.
Still, the Maple Leafs need a skilled first line center and it would be wise for Burke to consider all options, including a potential long shot like Richards.
SAN JOSE SHAKEUP?
The San Jose Sharks inability to advance beyond the conference final for a second straight season has led to speculation over a roster shakeup this summer.
ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun believed there were “too many passengers” on the San Jose roster, singling out forwards Dany Heatley, Joe Pavelski and Devin Setoguchi. LeBrun wondered if the Sharks might re-sign Setoguchi, a restricted free agent, or explore his trade value at the draft.
Meanwhile, Mark Emmons of the San Jose Mercury News noted Sharks GM Doug Wilson will have to make decisions very soon regarding his pending free agents, which include RFAs Setoguchi, Jamie McGinn and Ben Ferriero, along with unrestricted free agents Ian White, Ben Eager, Kyle Wellwood, Kent Huskins, Jamal Mayers and Scott Nichol.
The media consensus is Wilson needs to bolster his defense corps. White's post-season performance could earn him a new contract, but, according to capgeek.com, San Jose already has $51.8 million invested in 14 players for next season, which doesn’t leave much cap space to add more blueline experience and still re-sign key players. If Wilson hopes to bolster his blueline, it might have to be via the trade route.
Don't expect Heatley or Pavelski to be moved. The former still has three more years (at $7.5 million per season) remaining on his contract, while Pavelski was re-signed last summer to a four-year, $16-million deal. That leaves Setoguchi as a possible trade candidate.
HOLLAND NO FAN OF OFFER SHEETS
Forget about the notion of Detroit GM Ken Holland replacing recently retired defenseman Brian Rafalski by pursuing RFAs such as Nashville's Shea Weber, Phoenix's Keith Yandle, Los Angeles' Drew Doughty or Atlanta's Zach Bogosian with offer sheets this summer.
Holland has never done that sort of thing in the past and recently expressed his reluctance to consider that option this year.
If he were to change his mind, it's unlikely Holland’s efforts would be successful. Predators GM David Poile recently said he'd match any offer for Weber and it's a good assumption other teams with notable RFA defensemen would do the same.
Holland will look toward either the UFA or trade markets to find a suitable replacement for Rafalski.
OILERS TO BUY OUT SOURAY?
The Edmonton Oilers are once again considering their options with veteran Sheldon Souray and a contract buyout could be in his future.
Souray spent this season loaned to American League Hershey after the Oilers couldn’t find a trade partner for the defenseman and his $5.4-million cap hit. But 2011-12 is Souray’s last under his current contract, which could make a buyout more palatable.
According to capgeek.com, buying out Souray will result in a cap hit of $2.4 million for next season and $1.5 million in 2012-13.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey News.