Leafs lookin' at Richards

Stars centre Brad Richards skates the puck against the Blue Jackets in Dallas on November 19, 2009....

Stars centre Brad Richards skates the puck against the Blue Jackets in Dallas on November 19, 2009. (RONALD MARTINEZ/Getty Images)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:57 PM ET

In their quests to land a centre, the Rangers and Maple Leafs are hoping the Stars align.

The whisper among NHL executives is that both New York and Toronto are interested in Dallas Cs Mike Ribeiro and Brad Richards if Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk decides to make a move.

Richards would be the easier of the two to move because he can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, while Ribeiro has two years remaining on his deal with a cap hit of $5 million (all terms US) per season, which makes him a lot tougher to deal.

With the Stars ownership in a state of flux, Dallas likely can’t afford to keep Richards. He will be the top UFA available next summer and could fetch the club some prospects.

Richards has a cap hit of $7.8 million this season.

“The Stars aren’t going to be able to afford him,” a league executive said Saturday. “They’ll be able to do something with Richards when more time ticks off (his) contract. No one has that cap space.”

This isn’t the first time Ribeiro’s name has surfaced in trade talks. He had two goals and 14 assists in 17 games going into Saturday’s game against Colorado.

Off the glass

You’ve got to give credit to Carolina GM Jim Rutherford. He actually made a trade last week, dealing RW Tom Kostopoulos and D Anton Babchuk to Calgary for D Ian White and C Brett Sutter. “In this case, we end up taking on more money because we have the room to do it, not because we can afford to do it. So it’s a deal, ultimately, the owner has to approve, ‘Do you want to spend more money at this time?’ ” said Rutherford. He admitted he’s had plenty of trade offers. “There are deals out there and if you just played in a fantasy league and wanted to be a fantasy GM, you could make great hockey deals. But you can’t because you have to factor the money in. Somebody has got to pay the bills,” said Rutherford ... Lightning GM Steve Yzerman has opened contract talks with C Steve Stamkos’ agent, Don Meehan. Expect to see a contract in the six- to seven-year range at $7 million per season. There is plenty of excitement in Tampa that Stamkos could score 50 goals in 50 games.

Around the boards

The Devils’ signing LW Ilya Kovalchuk was ill-advised, but he’s not the root of New Jersey’s problems. They’re just too old. Key players Jason Arnott (36), Patrik Elias (34), Brian Rolston (37), Dainius Zubrus (32), Colin White (33) and Martin Brodeur (38) are really showing their age this season. It’s a bad mix because the younger players the Devils have aren’t cutting it. There have been suggestions the Devils hire Bob Hartley to replace coach John MacLean. The Hawkesbury native would be a great choice and he coached Kovalchuk in Atlanta ... The denials came from every corner of the hockey world when word surfaced last week that the Flames could deal captain Jarome Iginla to the Kings. It’s hard to believe Calgary would make that kind of move, but the Flames would have to get 19-year-old C Brayden Schenn in return from Los Angeles to make it happen.

This 'n' that

Bruins C Marc Savard has resumed skating with the team after being given clearance to make the next step from post-concussion syndrome. That doesn’t mean GM Peter Chiarelli has to hurry to make a decision salary-wise, because Savard won’t be ready to play before mid-December at the earliest. It would be hard to believe the Bruins would send RW Michael Ryder down to get his $4 million off the books because he’s been one of the club’s best forwards. The real decision has to be made once LW Marco Sturm, who is recovering from a knee injury, returns to action .... The Senators haven’t had any talks with the agent for potential UFA D Chris Phillips. Neither side seems concerned at this point.

Rumours du jour

Atlanta GM Rick Dudley has been busy doing a lot of scouting. No GM sees more games live than Dudley does, but he’s been doing so with a purpose: The Thrashers would like to add another forward ... Once Florida GM Dale Tallon starts making deals you can expect LW Cory Stillman to be moved. He has a $3.533-million cap hit and can become a UFA on July 1 ... Three goalies who are potential UFAs: Detroit’s Jimmy Howard, Colorado’s Craig Anderson, the Islanders’ Dwayne Roloson, Tampa’s Mike Smith, Florida’s Tomas Vokoun and Phoenix’ Ilja Bryzgalov. While the Coyotes are trying to sign Bryzgalov to a new deal, there have been no discussions with Anderson or Howard. Expect to see Vokoun and Roloson dealt by the NHL trade deadline ... Rutherford does have a decision to make on D Joni Pitkanen and RW Erik Cole before the deadline since they’re both potential UFAs. Neither player’s name has been mentioned on the trade market yet.

Have a nice Day.

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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