Friday, January 7, 2011

Does Langenbrunner Trade Take Brad Richards Off Market?

Harry How/Getty Images
The most talked about rumor all season long has been the idea that somehow and at some point the New York Rangers would deal for star center Brad Richards.  I know today everyone is focused on what this morning’s trade of Langenbrunner to the Dallas Stars means both for him and demise of the team from Newark, being someone who follows the New York Rangers I want to look a little closer to home and see what impact it has on the Rangers and that rumor.

For the Stars this was an easy move to make for it is a very low risk move to bring in a character guy like Langenbrunner to bolster the chances of your surprising team and to get him for half the season only improves the chances of maintaining their current standing.  The move also sends a message to the fans and the league that the Stars are in this to compete for a title, not become sellers.  Does it also signal the end of the Brad Richards trade rumors?

With Richards, 30, in the final year of his contract which pays him 7.8 million this season and the cash strapped nature of Stars ownership the assumption out there has been the team would at some point fade or even if they did not they would realize they were not going to be able to keep Richards in Dallas so they would sell him off to make sure they obtained a return for him.  That assumption must be taken into doubt now that they have made a buyers move even if deemed a small one in bringing back a championship caliber leader into their fold.  The Stars are currently in third in the Western Conference and Richards is playing like an MVP finalist (18-29-47) this season and with ownership on the way out dealing him away does not add value to the team, but keeping him and making a run in the playoffs would and it add current money to pockets via ticket and merchandise sales.

It is certainly true as Mike Heika wrote this morning in the Dallas Morning News, that until the ownership issues are resolved with the Dallas Stars it will be difficult to hammer out a long term deal with Richards, but that does not mean parameters cannot be set that would allow a new owner to come in and sign him quickly once the change occurs.

For many Rangers fans, including myself, the end of Richards trade rumors would be a welcomed event not because we do not want to obtain a top talent in the NHL, but because of what the cost would be in terms of the young assets the Rangers have built up over the past number of years.  Let the Stars play the season out and see what happens and then come July 1 if the Rangers can work out their own cap issues and want to go after Richards, then by all means, but as of today I believe it means he is off the market during the season.  Obviously Brad Richards was the golden goose out there for fans of many franchises to hope was coming as reinforcements for a title run but instead the Stars threw all their chips in and hope once again this star hoists Stanley's Cup.