The uncertainty over the future ownership of the Dallas Stars and its potential impact upon management’s efforts to re-sign center Brad Richards continues to dominate the rumor mill.
It’s believed Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk will be forced to trade Richards, who is continuing to display the skills that made him a 91-point performer in 2009-10, if Dallas is out of the playoff race by the Feb. 28 trade deadline.
That prompted Tim Wharnsby of CBC.ca to suggest the likelihood of a trade later this season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, citing past ties between Nieuwendyk and Leafs GM Brian Burke.
Craig Custance of The Sporting News, meanwhile, suggested the Los Angeles Kings, flush with plenty of salary cap space, would target Richards if the Stars decide to shop him.
But agent Pat Morris reminded The Calgary Sun his client has a full no-movement clause in his contract and thus remains in control of his future for the remainder of this season.
If the Stars’ strong start to this season continues to the trade deadline, there would be little reason for Richards to waive that clause or for Nieuwendyk to move the talented playmaker, regardless of his contract status.
THN.com’s Ken Campbell recently observed that attempts by the Stars to re-sign Richards won’t be resolved until new ownership is in place.
Presumably that would require a deep-pocketed owner willing to provide management with more than $45 million to work with next season, as re-signing Richards won’t come cheap, especially given the fact he’ll be the best available player in next summer’s UFA market.
COLORADO SEEKING A PUCKMOVER
The hot-and-cold special teams of the Colorado Avalanche led Denver Post columnist Adrian Dater to suggest the franchise needed a mobile, physical defenseman as well as more size on its roster.
Landing more physical players, especially for the defense, won’t be easy.
Most teams tend to be reluctant to make trades at this time of the season because of cap constraints, plus Avalanche management opted not to address those issues in the off-season, preferring to rebuild from within whilst keeping payroll amongst the lowest in the league.
At some point, however, Colorado’s roster needs will have to be addressed, which will force the front office into the trade market, waiver wire, or perhaps to the few available players left in the free agent pool.
SENATORS STAR STRUGGLES
One of the reasons the Ottawa Senators are currently near the bottom of the league in goals-for is the poor offensive production from right winger Alex Kovalev, who has only one assist in his first six games.
One explanation for Kovalev’s struggles is the nagging after-effects of off-season knee surgery, but with a salary of $5 million for this season the Senators were expecting much more from the veteran and hope he’ll find his range soon.
Bucky Gleason of The Buffalo News recently claimed the Senators would trade Kovalev if they could.
Obviously, that’s not going to happen at this point in the season. The earliest it could happen is near the trade deadline, provided Kovalev has regained his offensive touch and the Senators find themselves out of the playoff chase.
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 Magazine.