The biggest reason Brad Richards has hesitated to commit to re-signing in Dallas is because of their ownership uncertainty. According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the Stars don’t see there being a resolution to their ownership situation until much later in the summer, and therefore they will not be offering Richards a contract. Let’s look at what this means for the Rangers:
Mckenzie also states that Dallas will explore trading his rights before July 1st. The fact that he has a NMC complicates that a bit. Regardless, Now that it’s a lock that Richards will not be signing with Dallas, at least before July 1st, I think it makes sense to look at whether it makes more sense to trade for his rights or wait until July 1st and try to sign him then.
Trading For His Rights
Get It Over With– The sooner the Rangers can sign Richards, the sooner Sather can worry about addressing other issues, such as resigning our RFA’s, or finding a veteran defenseman.
Virtual Lock To Add Him– The only way the Rangers would trade for his rights is if they were given permission to speak to him and agreed on a contract, so by virtue of trading for his rights we would be essentially guaranteeing that Richards is a Ranger for the foreseeable future.
Exclusive Negotiating Rights– Richards would only be able to discuss a contract with the Rangers. If they wait until he’s a free agent to sign him then they’ll be competing with any other team that wants to sign him, which could very well inflate his contract demands. If we trade for his rights then we’d cut every other team in the NHL out of the equation and would only be competing with his demands.
Trading Assets– This is probably the most debatable aspect. I love the Tim Erixon trade and would do it again, but one thing it does do is take a bit of depth away in our prospect pool. That does give us less assets to offer Dallas, and it does complicate a trade for Richards’ rights a bit. Even disregarding that, though, we have the basic question at had; does it make sense to give up assets for a guy we could possibly get free a month ago? Even though Dallas doesn’t have too much leverage, history shows that player rights don’t exactly come cheap. Most recently, Dan Hamhuis got Philadelphia a 3rd round pick. Hartnell and Timmonen together cost Philadelphia a 1st round pick.
Potentially Give Another Team First Dibs– The Rangers could decide to wait until July 1st, but that’s assuming Richards is even available at that point. If the Rangers don’t trade for his rights, then someone else might. Richards is far and away the best available forward this summer, so there will be many other teams interested in bringing Richards to their club. We know specifically that the Maple Leafs are very interested in adding him. Do we want to risk watching him sign with another team before we’re even given an opportunity to speak to him?
So that’s ultimately what it comes down to. We know the Rangers are very interested in Richards. We know Richards has reason to be interested in coming to New York. Do the Rangers want to risk paying him more or even losing out on him to another team? Or would they rather take the safe route even if it might cost them an asset or two on top of the money they already would need to pay him? What are your thoughts?