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Star gazing

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

• There has been speculation the Dallas Stars might ship center Brad Richards to the New York Rangers, but according to Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News, such a move is unlikely.

Heika was recently asked by a Rangers fan about the possibility of Richards and another player heading to New York for unsigned restricted free agent center Brandon Dubinsky, defenseman Michal Rozsival and a prospect.

Heika noted the Stars are under a tight budget this season and would probably listen to offers enabling them to dump Richards’ $7.8 million per season contract, but the rumored offer from the Rangers wouldn’t save them any money. Heika also noted Richards’ no-trade clause, but wondered if he would waive it to play again for ex-Tampa coach John Tortorella.

The Rangers have the cap space to absorb Richards’ contract and he would certainly address their need for a first-line center, but it’s believed he likes how the Stars are shaping up and looks forward to playing for new coach Marc Crawford, who prefers a more up-tempo offensive game.

Besides, the Rangers’ recent signing of former Lightning forward Vaclav Prospal – who can play both wing and center – likely means they have no plans of pursuing Richards or any other expensive centers.

• The Edmonton Oilers gave up their pursuit of Ottawa Senators left winger Dany Heatley nearly three weeks ago, but still lack a talented scorer for playmaker Ales Hemsky’s line.

Defenseman Ladislav Smid was rumored to be part of a package offer for Heatley, but since that deal fell through Smid has been re-signed to a two-year contract and is happy to be returning to the Oilers.

Given the Oilers’ lack of shutdown blueliners it appears Smid, who falls into that category, will be staying put.

Perhaps, as the Edmonton Journalsuggested, management would have better luck shopping one of their offensive defensemen – Sheldon Souray, Lubomir Visnovsky, Tom Gilbert or Denis Grebeshkov.

Of the four, Gilbert and Grebeshkov would be the easiest to move. They are younger, more affordable and, most importantly, lack the pesky no-movement clauses Souray and Visnovsky have in their contracts.

The Journal suggested that “sooner or later” the Oilers will have to move a defenseman for a scorer. Given how difficult the salary cap has made it for early-season trade activity, such a move is more likely to happen later in the season, perhaps close to the March 3 trade deadline.

• For those wondering why the Boston Bruins haven’t re-signed RFA right winger Phil Kessel, the Boston Globereminded everyone he had off-season shoulder surgery and will be sidelined until possibly December.

Fluto Shinzawa pointed out Kessel can continue his rehab and if the Bruins get off to a slow start, management may be put under more pressure to sign him.

Kessel’s injury status could also shoot down Internet speculation that other teams, such as the San Jose Sharks, are pursuing him this summer. It wouldn’t make sense to acquire a winger who is unsigned and unavailable until December.

Then again, there was a potential swap in June of Kessel to the Toronto Maple Leafs for defenseman Tomas Kaberle, although it’s quite possible the winger’s salary demands and injury status were factors in that deal falling apart.

• Speaking of Kaberle, his no-trade clause went back into effect Aug. 15, ensuring he’ll return to the Maple Leafs for the upcoming season.

It was widely believed Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke would move Kaberle or another defenseman this summer for a scoring forward, but, as the National Post recently observed, Mike Van Ryn’s injury history and Ian White’s ability to play forward means Burke has no plans to change his current defense roster.

Burke could look to the unrestricted free agent market to add a forward with scoring potential, but considering his limited cap space for the upcoming season, it would have to be an affordable one, say, less than $1.2 million.

• The Anaheim Ducks’ recent acquisition of goaltender Justin Pogge is not a prelude to a potential trade of J-S Giguere or Jonas Hiller.

According to the Orange County Register, the former Maple Leaf is slated to become the Ducks’ No. 3 netminder.

Perhaps in a year or two, if the Ducks part ways with either Giguere or Hiller, Pogge will have a shot at getting his NHL career back on track. But barring injury, it’s unlikely he’ll see much action with Anaheim this season.

Rumor Roundup appears Mondays only on Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website,, and is a contributing writer for and Eishockey Magazine.


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