The Dallas Morning News reported this afternoon that the Stars will be without Brad Richards for at least 6-8 weeks – essentially the remainder of the regular season. If Richards is going to hit the ice again this season for the Stars, they will have to make it to the playoffs without his services. This is a pretty big blow for Dallas, as they had leaned on Richards’ offensive production quite a bit as of late. According to the press release from Stars’ HQ in Frisco:
Richards skated in 55 games this season, posting 16 goals and 32 assists for 48 points. Among team leaders, he ranks first in shots (179), second in assists and points, tied for second in power play goals (5) and third in goals.
If there’s any silver lining in this bad news, it’s that it happened before the trade deadline, and should free up nearly 2 million dollars in cap space. With the loss of Morrow and Zubov for the season already, that gives the Stars nearly 6 million dollars of “cap exceptions”, which is basically how much they are allowed to go over the salary cap because of injuries and special circumstances. This also doesn’t count in the possibility of shedding half of Sean Avery’s salary should some team (I’m looking at you NY Rangers) decide to take on that bundle of joy. Granted, not all of that money could be used to acquire a free agent – there are still players like Andrew Hutchinson, Brian Sutherby, Mark Parish and Chris Conner to pay. They are taking the place of all these wounded soldiers after all (Thanks for that reminder Mr. Heika), but that still leave a decent amount for a solid acquisition.
I think with the loss of Richards (who will be sorely missed at the point on the power play), and already being without Sergei Zubov, the Stars need to look even harder at bringing in a solid top-two, puck-moving defenseman. There aren’t a lot of options out there, but the ones that are available are good:
- Tomas Kaberle – He may not be Brian Burke’s favorite guy in Toronto, but Kaberle is one of the top men at his position, and would look great on the Stars power play. He eats up quality minutes in a game, and is a +39 for his career in plus/minus (although his -13 this season should give us a bit of a discount.
- Filip Kuba – He’s in the final year of his contract, and the Senators are currently twelve points out of the 8th and final playoff spot. If the Sens decide to call it quits on the playoff hunt this season, they could be looking to re-tool and shed some of their UFA’s to get some young help for next year. Although they’ll probably want a young d-man in return (perhaps someone like Matt Niskanen or Mark Fistric), he could help this season in the same way as Kaberle…but at less of a price.
- Jay Bouwmeester – Hey, if you’re going to throw out scenarios, why not throw them all out there? The young Florida blue-liner is one of the most promising in the league, and has talent in abundance. He’s also a UFA at the end of this season. His current team, the Florida Panthers, have said several times this year that they’re focused on re-signing him and not trading him…but if they haven’t neared a deal at the deadline, there’s lots of speculation that they’ll listen to offers. He’d look great in Stars’ green…but he would cost the organization a lot. Several prospects and multiple draft picks. Perhaps even a veteran to boot. I love the idea of it, but I think when the dust settled, we’d look back at that trade and feel like we gave up too much.
Or, perhaps the Stars should try and get by with the defensive corps they have in place right now, and focus on finding a scoring winger to substitute for Richards. There are a few of those out there too, I hear tell. What do you think?