Leafs hunting Richards?

Stars forward Brad Richards skates in a game against the Canucks in Dallas, Texas, Dec. 31, 2010....

Stars forward Brad Richards skates in a game against the Canucks in Dallas, Texas, Dec. 31, 2010. (MIKE STONE/Reuters)

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:13 PM ET

TORONTO - A U.S. report says the Toronto Maple Leafs are looking to make a trade for the rights to unrestricted free agent Brad Richards prior to July 1, but there are no signs he’s coming or even if he’ll leave the Dallas Stars on or before July 1.

The New York Daily News says the Leafs will be pressing for a deal this week to get the jump on competitors looking for a No. 1 centre. But Leafs GM Brian Burke has said in the past he doesn’t like giving up assets just for the privilege of talking. The Leafs do have a need for a top pivot and have more than $20 million in cap space for this year, but the 31-year-old Richards might not be what they’re looking for in a long-term investment.

If he can’t land a free agent, Burke has said he will seek a first liner via trade.

If Dallas is trying to maximize compensation for Richards’ rights, he must first agree to waive his no-trade clause, a move that agent Pat Morris told the Daily News the Stars have not yet requested. Richards is also awaiting developments with the Stars and their ownership change.

A report in the New York Post, meanwhile, says Richards would still like to be re-united with old coach John Tortorella with the Rangers, but will be asking for at least $7 million a year on July 1 and thus price himself out of New York’s tighter budget.

Richards had 77 points in 72 games last season.


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