Blog Entry

Free agency: Richards cream of offensive crop

Posted on: June 29, 2011 6:23 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 2:36 pm

You ever see a fish feeding frenzy? When the fish basically jump on top of each other to get the food first? That's what free agency will look like because of the dearth of big fish to be found, to mix our metaphors.

There is no doubt who the most coveted free agent is this season. Brad Richards tops all names up for grabs and pretty much every team is likely to show some interest in signing the former Stars center.

NHL Free Agency

Richard expects to be a busy man come Friday, according to his agent, Pat Morris, who spoke to Buffalo radio station WGR 550 on Wednesday.

"If five teams call, I'd be shocked by the limited number. If 25 teams called, I wouldn't be shocked," Morris said.

Perhaps the first ring will come from the Rangers, who seem to be the team most coveting Richards. They would love to find a center who can score to anchor the first line with Marian Gaborik. Just a reminder, though: veteran newcomers don't always work out so well for the Blueshirts, just think of Scott Gomez and Chris Drury.

If Rangers GM Glen Sather isn't first to get in touch with Richards, then it could very well be Brian Burke and Toronto. The Leafs are hungry to get back to the playoffs after a lengthy drought by the organization's standards (six seasons). Richards grew up a Leafs fan, so that has helped drive speculation in Ontario. But honestly a massive chunk of the NHL players grew up Maple Leafs fans, so that means next to nothing.

His former team in Tampa Bay, the Sabres in Buffalo, and even the Flyers are potential suitors, too.

Frankly, any team that has enough room to sign Richards will probably be standing with food in hand, hoping to get the hook, line and sinker on the best player to be had.

Here are this year's best forward options (in alphabetical order).

Sean Bergenheim -- Lightning: Before the postseason, Bergenheim would have likely re-signed quietly with the Lightning after a modest 14-goal, 15-assist season. But he busted out in a big way during the playoffs, scoring nine goals in 16 games. Since then he has turned down an offer from Tampa Bay with GM Steve Yzerman commenting that the two sides obviously see Bergenheim's value a little differently. At this point it looks like he'll be playing elsewhere.

Erik Cole -- Hurricanes: Cole has been a near lifer in Carolina, spending all but a part of his nine seasons in the red of the 'Canes (he was sent to Edmonton and then promptly reacquired by Carolina). He enters free agency coming off a 26-goal, 26-assist campaign, more than attractive numbers. Carolina GM Jim Rutherford would still like to re-sign Cole and keep him around longer, but at this point they haven't been able to find common ground. Carolina is still the odds-on favorite, though.

Simon Gagne -- Lightning: Gagne is coming off a 17-goal, 23-assist season in Tampa Bay, his first with the Lightning. It wasn't long ago that Gagne was a 40-goal scorer for the Flyers, last hitting that mark in 2006-07. It isn't as if he's too old to still flash that form at 31, but the concern might be in the injury department, specifically concussion concerns. Could be worth a shot from a team looking for scoring on the wings.

Jussi Jokinen -- Hurricanes: Another player Rutherford has said he's not sure if he'll be able to re-sign but wants to, Jokinen should draw a good amount of interest if Carolina can't lock him up. The last two seasons for the 'Canes he has surpassed 50 points, highlighted by a 30-goal, 35-assist campaign in 2009-10. (June 30: Re-signed with Hurricanes for three years, $9 million)

Ville Leino -- Flyers: The 27-year-old Fin is coming off his best season in the NHL, scoring 19 goals with 34 assists on the heels of his 21-point postseason when the Flyers went to the Cup Finals. There is no question the Flyers would like to have him back, but it's a matter of if they can have him back. The Flyers are still reportedly eyeing RFA Steven Stamkos, so Leino could be left in the lurch and snagged by another team while Philly chases that option.

Richards -- Stars: Richards is a true No. 1 center. Last season in 72 games for the Stars he tallied 77 points on 28 goals and 49 assists. The mystery isn't who will be interested in Richards, it's who will Richards be interested in? He will likely have his pick of the litter, from his old stomping grounds in Tampa to New York or Chicago.

Michael Ryder -- Bruins: The 31-year-old Ryder hasn't made the best impression in the world in either Montreal or Boston, the two stomping grounds in his career. However, the guy has scoring ability, hitting the 25-goal plateau in four of his seven NHL seasons, including 38 as a rookie.

Maxime Talbot -- Penguins: Talbot isn't the highest-scoring center you'll find (just eight goals and 13 assists last season) but he has earned a reputation as a postseason performer, which never hurts. The Maple Leafs have shown interest in Talbot since it became clear he wouldn't be returning to Pittsburgh and seem the most likely destination at this point.

Scottie Upshall -- Blue Jackets: Smack dab in the middle of his prime at 27, Upshall has plenty of talent to draw interest. He hasn't found the perfect spot for himself in either Columbus or any of the spots before. But each of the past four seasons has seen his goal total rise, hitting 22 last season for the Jackets. Once concern is that last season was the first time he played 75 games (he played all 82).

Others of interest: Jason Arnott (WAS), Tomas Fleischmann (COL), Radim Vrbata (PHO), Joel Ward (NSH), Marcel Goc (NSH), Raffi Torres (VAN), John Madden (MIN), Andrew Brunette (MIN), Tim Connolly (BUF)

By Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 16, 2011 7:55 am
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Since: Oct 7, 2011
Posted on: October 19, 2011 11:12 pm

Free agency: Richards cream of offensive crop

Hey ! Recognize your website webpage many thanks for sharing it with us. Aid group over the internet organization.

Since: Jun 8, 2009
Posted on: July 2, 2011 11:19 am

Free agency: Richards cream of offensive crop

Richards signs with the New York Rangers!! City of Toronto cancels Stanley Cup Parade :(

Seriously, is anyone really surprised by this? (Richards to the Rangers, not the bit about the parade - no surprise there) I would have loved to have seen him in Buffalo, I really like what they're doing down there - even though it means my Sens are going to, in all likley-hood get pounded next year - paging Craig Anderson! Prepare to stand on your head! Richards would have just been the cream on top of what has been already been a very productive off-season for GM Darcy Regier (who, by the way, should be considered an early favorite for GM of the Year next season).

Since: Jun 8, 2009
Posted on: July 1, 2011 7:17 pm

Free agency: Richards cream of offensive crop

@ espvinny

Hallelujah!! Dead on.

Since: Jul 8, 2008
Posted on: July 1, 2011 9:10 am

Free agency: Richards cream of offensive crop

"A massive chunk of the NHL players grew up fans". Correct,and they had very little choice.Canada`s state funded/run television,the CBC,or as i like to call it,the TBC,Toronto Brodcast Corp, station only brodcast Leafs games,thus,as in the way of ANY communist country,kids were only exposed to what the state wanted them exposed to,like in North Korea,China and many strict islamic states.Years ago we didn`t have the options of choices like we do today.Marcel Dionne was probably one of the best hockey players to play the game ,yet while he excelled in LA his whole magnificent carreer,kids in Canada never got to watch him.They were force fed losers by the socialist state.The Maple Laffs.It`s no mistake that "a massive chunk of the NHL players grew up ".That`s the way socialist Toronto wanted it.It`s called indoctrinationYou should hear them bitching now as they`re grip on power is waning,with a conservative majority federal government,a new conservative mayor in Toronto,and soon to be a conservative provincial government.Me thinks the people have had enough communism for a while.Read the Crybaby(Toronto) Star if you want a REAL laugh about it all :)

Since: Apr 1, 2009
Posted on: July 1, 2011 8:49 am

Free agency: Richards cream of offensive crop

It would be great to see Richards back in Tampa and I really think he would fit in with the current team.

Since: Dec 11, 2006
Posted on: July 1, 2011 8:27 am

Free agency: Richards cream of offensive crop

Stop the BS - he's going to Buffalo.  Remember, Richards wants to win and to compete for the Cup.  Not happening in NY or Toronto, that's for sure.  The Sabres have already landed Erhoff and Regher which solidify's Buffalo's D as easy one of the top in the NHL, along with Miller between the pipes.  Scoring has never been an issue in Buffalo since the lockout, so they don't necessarily need Richards in that department.  But it's the point everyone in Buffalo and the organization wants - hey we signed the best FA D-Man, now the best FA overall.  Gonna happen.....I'll be laughing at all you haters later.......

Since: Jun 8, 2009
Posted on: July 1, 2011 5:38 am

Free agency: Richards cream of offensive crop

Leafs will get Brad Richards.
And pigs will fly. He stated quite emphatically at the trade deadline that he had no desire to play in Toronto. And with what Burke has (not) done thus far, why would he? Let's see - chance to win a cup? NO. Chance to play with and elite group of up and comers? NO. Chance to play with one of the best coaches in hockey? NO. Why would Richards go to Toronto? Why?

Not happening.

Since: Aug 17, 2006
Posted on: July 1, 2011 1:06 am

Free agency: Richards cream of offensive crop

Rangers would be a perfect landing spot for Richards

Since: May 17, 2011
Posted on: June 30, 2011 11:36 pm
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