Sabres poised to make play for Richards, Stastny

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:58 PM ET

The Buffalo Sabres could be one team that surprises at Mondayís NHL trade deadline.

New owner Terry Pegula, who wanted to win before he took over the franchise, has given GM Darcy Regier the green light to spend to the salary cap to win a Stanley Cup.

Thatís not something the Sabres have always shown a willingness to do, so donít be surprised if they are a player on either Dallas centre Brad Richards on Coloradoís Paul Stastny.

While the denials might be coming fast and furious out of the Rocky Mountains about Stastnyís future with the Avs, donít believe them for a second. Pretty much every player on that roster is available.

The Sabres have the cap space to make a big move. They havenít been the same since they lost Derek Roy to a quad injury earlier this season and need skill up front.

ďIf weíre going to do anything, it will be on the buy side,Ē Regier told Buffalo reporters Saturday.

Regier will have competition. Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke isnít going to pass up the chance to get a good centre. Neither is Los Angeles counterpart Dean Lombardi. Both have the available cap space.

Regier has never been a big dealer. Stastny would require at least two young prospects and a top pick. But Pegula wants to shake the Sabresí foundation. A major move would send a message.

Los cause

The heat is on Lombardi. The Kings GM is accused of being a terrible tire kicker whoís afraid to make the big move even when his team needs it most. Now, with deadline looming large, Lombardi is under pressure to deal for an impact player, something he hasnít done before. League sources say Lombardi has held talks with Edmonton GM Steve Tambellini about RW Ales Hemsky, but the word is any deal with Los Angeles involving the Oilersí top player has to include C Brayden Schenn. Since thatís a non-starter for the Kings and the Oilers donít honestly want to trade Hemsky, Lombardi could be forced to call Dallas GM Joe Nieuwendyk to check on Richards. This deadline is shaping up as Lombardiís defining moment as a GM. He either takes a leap and pays the price for a deadline deal or adds to his reputation of being afraid to pull the trigger.

This 'n' that

Richards is definitely in play, but has a no-movement clause and the Stars arenít sure what step he wants to take next. The two sides have held contract discussions, but theyíve gone nowhere. The Richards situation is going to play out right until the deadline, with the Rangers and Leafs both looking for a centre. They can be added to the rest of the list of teams interested in Richards ... It was the Avs who first approached the Senators about the Craig Anderson-for-Brian Elliott goalie swap that took place. While the Avs had discussed a deal with Anderson, all contract talks stopped after the start of training camp. Anderson is worth the gamble for the Senators, who werenít going to give Elliott a qualifying offer next summer anyway. Donít think the Avs plan to keep Elliott, either. Heíll likely be looking for work in the summer ... The Hurricanes toyed with moving D Joni Pitkanen. But now that theyíre in the playoff hunt, Pitkanen will likely stay put.

Rumours du jour

The only need Canucks GM Mike Gillis will explore: A fourth-line centre and heís looking at Floridaís Marty Reasoner. The Canucks really donít have a need to do anything ... A league executive on the asking prices right now: ďTheyíre huge, teams want a high pick for a third- or fourth-liner. Thatís just not going to happen. They may go down by Monday.Ē ... Confirm or deny: The Hurricanes are trying to move RW Erik Cole. Heís a playoff performer, but is better off staying in Raleigh ... Colorado D John-Michael Liles will likely be asked to waive his no-movement clause. There are plenty of teams looking for blue-line help, so heís going to have options ... A team you shouldnít expect to make a move: The Detroit Red Wings. They donít need to make a change and theyíre confident G Chris Osgood will be back next month after sports hernia surgery. There has been some talk the Wings might take a run at Florida G Tomas Vokoun, but they donít have the payroll space. G Jimmy Howard and Osgood will get the chance to carry the ball in the playoffs ... The Panthers could deal D Bryan Allen by Monday. He is one of several players who has been put on the block by Florida and might be on the move. Panthers GM Dale Tallon was ready to move LW Chris Higgins, but heíll be out for three weeks with a broken thumb. Florida might bring him back as an unrestricted free agent in the summer ... Columbusí Scott Howson is another GM facing deadline pressure to make a move. Heís getting a lot of calls on RW Jakub Voracek and C Derrick Brassard, but the Blue Jackets would rather keep those guys. Executives can breathlessly issue denials all they want, but the Jackets have been shopping G Steve Mason.

Have a nice Sunday and enjoy the deadline.

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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