Brad Richards will not know his future with the Dallas Stars until July 1st at the latest when a new owner for the team has been implemented. But, it is safe to say that Richards will be moving on and he has expressed interest towards several new markets.
Richards had gone on record earlier in the month suggesting he would like to play for a “premier Canadian team”. Rumors instantly started flowing that Richards could be moved to Toronto. But even more recently, Richards has said he would not mind a return to the Tampa Bay Lightning – the team he won a Stanley Cup with, as well as the Conn Smythe and Lady Byng trophies, in 2004.
Steve Yzerman, coming off of his first year as general manager for the Bolts club, has said that he expects the team to have a larger payroll for next season. The NHL also announced back on May 26 the expectation of the league’s salary cap to increase from $60.5-million to $63.5-million starting next season.
But, is acquiring Brad Richards really a move that the Tampa Bay Lightning should make? The team may have more money to spend, but their focus should be to use it on the abundance of players who will have their contracts expire by July 1 – the players who performed immensely throughout last season and the playoffs. Players that definitely deserve a raise, so to speak. And the rumours that Richards is seeking north of $7-million a season may not leave the Bolts with enough cash to spend on the players who deserve it.
As of July 1, Tampa Bay will have 12 contracts expire: Steven Stamkos, both goaltenders Dwayne Roloson and Mike Smith, Simon Gagne, Sean Bergenheim, Teddy Purcell, Mike Lundin, Matt Smaby, Eric Brewer, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Adam Hall, and Randy Jones.
Brad Richards is a great player, and he did great things for Tampa Bay, but after having such a successful season and post-season this year, the team should focus on staying just that: a team.
These are all important players. Stamkos is self-explanatory, as is the fact that the Bolts can’t let both of their goalies go – both of whom shined in the playoffs. Simon Gagne also produced essential firepower and was consistent in the playoffs. Names not as well-known were Teddy Purcell and Sean Bergenheim. They are known now. Purcell was third on the team for playoff points this post-season with 17 and Bergenheim had lead the league in goals at one point.
Purcell and Bergenheim are players the Bolts can most likely still keep for a steal. Stamkos’ new contract is rumored to be long-term and somewhere around $7-million a year. Keeping players like Gagne and Roloson on top of that, will cost the team. Unless Richards is willing to take a pay-cut from what he was making in Dallas, Steve Yzerman and the Tampa Bay Lightning will most likely not be returning his calls.
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