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Posted By Travis Currie On Nov 25 2010 @ 12:08 am In Dallas Stars | 5 Comments

What should the Stars do with Brad Richards ? That’s the dilemma facing Joe Nieuwendyk with the time ticking on the last year of Richards’ contract. He’ll be a UFA at the end of the season and unless Joe is able to re-sign him or find a trade for him, he’ll end up walking.

 After finishing 7th in league scoring last season, Richards is again among the top ten in scoring. He clearly makes the offense tick for the Stars and he’s found great chemistry with wingers James Neal and Loui Eriksson. The three have formed one of the top lines in the NHL, if not THE top line. He makes the team better, no question.

Nobody wants to lose their best player, but even worse is losing him for nothing. That’s something that has to be looked at realistically. Jacques Martin committed a fatal error when he let defenseman Jay Bouwmeester walk two seasons ago. The Panthers were in the playoff hunt and Martin was reluctant to pull the trigger on a trade. The Panthers failed to make the playoffs, Bouwmeester signed with Calgary in the off season and the Panthers were left with nothing. Even if the Panthers had made the playoffs, was it worth a few more games when they were going to lose Bouwmeester regardless ? Is Joe Nieuwendyk willing to put himself in the same position and risk losing Richards for nothing ?

Bouwmeester had expressed all along that season that he had no interest in re-signing with the Panthers. If Richards wants to stay in Dallas, that would be a difference in the two situations and  it could buy Nieuwendyk some time.

Something else to consider is this; With Richards turning 31 in May, will he still be the player he is now by the time the team is ready to contend again ? If he’s not, and he’s on board making $6 million, that could be a detrament to the team. I don’t know if Nieuwendyk is looking that far into the future but that could be something to consider. We know he wants to get this team back on track sooner rather than later though and that would likely involve keeping him.

It’s still pretty early in the season and they’re definitely not out of it by any means, so would trading Richards be throwing in the towel ? The Stars are already having problems filling the AAC. What would it tell the fans if they traded their best player this early in the season ? The clock is ticking and Nieuwendyk may be forced into a trade anyways if there’s not a new owner in place before the February 28th trade deadline who’s ready and willing to spend some money. That right there will be the deciding factor. If the money is there, Richards likely remains a Star.

Nieuwendyk and Richards have had discussions but nothing has evolved as of yet. Word is that the Maple Leafs and the Rangers are interested in his services. Nieuwendyk has to do his diligence and not only try to figure something out with Richards himself, but find out what he could possibly get in return for him aswell incase re-signing him isn’t going to happen.

With Richards on top of his game right now and it being still pretty early in the season, his market value is probably at it’s peak and he would be seen by any trade partner as more than just a brief rental. Could be a good time to pull the trigger.

The Stars need to either find the right contract for Richards and get it done ( best case scenario ), or trade him and get real good value back. Anything else would be pretty disappointing.

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