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A column on the New York Post's website today by Larry Brooks suggests that Brad Richards will not be willing to take any sort of a discount to come to New York and play for his former head coach, John Tortorella. Brooks is also speculating on what kind of backup plans the Rangers could come up with in case they are spurned by Richards for greener pastures elsewhere.
Brooks wrote that Brad Richards is expected to be looking for a new contract "worth a minimum of $7 million per when the free-agent market opens on July 1, and [the Rangers have] heard it more than once and they've heard it from more than one source." Brooks names several other players who Rangers GM Glen Sather could be looking at, although most of the more attractive alternatives would have to be acquired via trade, such as Patrick Sharp, Jason Spezza or Stephen Weiss. You can bet that any one of those names would cost an arm and a leg, which is why I really don't see it happening.
"Look, the Rangers have kind of been counting on getting Richards for a while now. It should have happened at the deadline, but Dallas GM Joe Nieuwendyk's eyes were bigger than his stomach. Now it doesn't appear as if it's going to happen at all.
It represents a blow, no doubt. But the truth is, if No. 91 were going to need to be bribed to play Broadway, if it's about the money rather than the opportunity, the Blueshirts are better off going in a different direction."
Meanwhile, another story posted on TampaBay.com speculates on Brad Richards possibly returning to the Tampa Bay Lightning this offseason. Richards, apparently, never wanted to leave Tampa in the first place and said he would be open to listening to the Lightning if they come calling with an offer when free agency opens. And why wouldn't he? Richards is in line for a big payday and isn't going to alienate any team that could potentially help make him a rich(er) man. I would be stunned if he actually returned to the Lightning, and I have to believe the chances are slim to none. The Lightning still have to re-sign Steven Stamkos and possibly Eric Brewer to a new contract and they also have a lot of money tied up in Vinny Lecavlier and Marty St. Louis. I'd also have to think that Tampa will want to invest some money in improving their goaltending, whether that includes Dwayne Roloson and Mike Smith or other candidates. And then there's also the fact that Lecavlier and Stamkos already center the top two lines for the Lightning, so somebody would have to switch positions.
The bottom line is this: this is all just speculation. Nobody knows where Brad Richards is going to go, but it's fun to think of different possibilities. I still consider the Rangers to be one of the favorites to land Richards, and I'll continue to feel that way until he signs with a new team.
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