Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Shiv on 11/22/10 at 09:00 PM ET
Leaf Nation is notorious for building castles in the air. Any time a major player hits the market via trade or free agency, the city of Toronto becomes obsessed, even convinced, that said player’s dream is to play for the Maple Leafs.
So when free-agent-to-be Brad Richards and the Dallas Stars drop in at the Air Canada Center tonight, the obvious question arises: Is there a chance the Stars’ Line 1 Center could find himself donning a Blue and White Jersey before the end of the year?
When asked about the possibility of being traded to Toronto by the media following the pre-game skate on Monday, Richards replied, “When the time comes, if that’s an option, Toronto’s always a No. 1 hockey destination. It would be great being a Canadian playing in Toronto, but we’re not even close to that bridge yet. And like I said, I’m focused here. I have so much respect for Joe Nieuwendyk, and to even talk about other teams is not even close to being fair.”
Improbabilities and unlikelihood aside, Richards would be the perfect fit in Toronto, where there is a desperate need for a number one pivot. Mikhael Grabovski has been on fire lately, but even still, both he and Tyler Bozak are 2A and 2B centers trying to fill roles they do not have the natural talent to fill.
Meanwhile, after struggling with injuries since 2006, Richards, 30, has quietly returned to his Conn Smythe form since last season, when he posted 91 points in 80 games. He hasn’t slowed down either. He currently ranks 6th in NHL scoring with 24 points in 18 games this season and has games on hand on all players ahead of him.
Dallas would, obviously, like to keep Richards, who is currently on a $7.8 million contract that expires this summer, making him one of the biggest assets potentially on the move before the trade deadline. All of this, of course, is assuming that Nieuwendyk can’t find a way to sign him – this is the part that makes the Richards to Toronto talk a bit of a pipe dream.
But let’s assume for a moment that Nieuwendyk fails to sign his top Center. What could the Leafs send the Stars’ way to best any other offer on the market? The obvious answer is a deal around Kaberle but would Kaberle agree to waive his No-Trade clause? Any talks about Luke Schenn or Nazem Kadri would be immediately shut down. Nor is it likely for any major draft picks to be a part of the package.
The only thing the Leafs have going for them is the combination of cap space and money to spend. Apart from that, the possibility of Richards coming to Toronto is miniscule for now at best.
But making mountains out of molehills is what we do here in Toronto. Hallucinating to the point of mass hysteria is our specialty.
Kadri-Richards-Kessel sure would be nice though.
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