Free Agent Target: Brad Richards

With free agency looming and the question of the Sabres potential pursuit of Brad Richards, I reached out to Dallas Stars blogger Stephanie from Dallas Stars 4 Life for some perspective.  Check out the sites twitter feed  @SLSportsfan

1. What are the biggest strengths in Brad Richards’ game? Is he a top tier center in the NHL at 31?

He has the most amazing senses on the ice. Meaning, he always knows where his teammates are, especially when he has linemates that he’s comfortable with, as in the case with Loui Eriksson. Loui’s a great player, but you can’t deny that Brad Richards can make anyone look better than they really are.  It’s almost like telepathy. He knows how and where to make the play, and that’s how he’s been so successful on the Stars.

He’s also got a great shot. While it seems like he doesn’t use it a lot, he’s actually led the Stars in shots over the past few years (at least in the years that he didn’t suffer injuries).

Richards is also a fantastic power play quarterback. After Sergei Zubov left for the KHL, Richards easily filled his shoes as the point man. He was among the top power play point-getters last season. 

At 31, he is indeed an elite center. In 2009-10, he tied his career high in points (91) and he was on track to surpass that number in 2010-11 until he suffered a concussion.  As with any concussion, there’s no telling if he’ll ever regain his form he had before. When he returned for the Stars, he struggled a bit, even though he still produced. I think that that injury would be more concerning than his age. The only way that age really figures in is that he’ll be looking to finish his career wherever he goes. I would be very surprised if his eventual deal is short-term.   

 2. What are the biggest weaknesses in Richard’ game?

Well, obviously there’s the concussion he suffered. Like I said, you can’t really predict how that will affect him in the years to come. I think that having a long summer to recover will help his health immensely. For his actual game, I’ve noticed that he gets tired. If it’s a back-to-back, he’ll be great for the first night, but he might not show up for the next night. I believe he’s been working on conditioning and such during the offseason, so that may help him there.  His defensive abilities have also been called into question. He’s certainly not the type of player to go onto the penalty kill. Defense just isn’t his area of expertise. 

3. How much do you think age should factor into his next contract?

Like I said, he’s looking to finish his career in whatever place he signs with. I think the first few years of his deal will be in the $8-9 million range, and then they’ll cut off for when he’s older. That’s just how I think it’ll play out. 

4. In what type of system or what type of team would Richards most likely fit for the next 3-6 years?

Richards is the type of player who can do well in any system he plays in. He flourished in Marc Crawford’s offensive attack system. However, in Dave Tippett’s defensive system, his production wasn’t quite as big.

5. Five years from now Dallas fans will look at the day that Brad Richards left and think __________?

Until the Stars prove us otherwise, fans will look upon that day with despair and gloom. We’ll know it’s not B-Rad’s fault, but that of Tom effing Hicks. Honestly, we were incredibly lucky with the Richards trade. We gave up very little for what turned out to be a huge addition. No one regrets the trade. We just regret that we have an idiot owner.

Brian Bund is a Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bills fan currently residing with his family in Syracuse, New York. He is a contributing writer at Hockey Heaven, Buffalo Wins and the author of the The Buffalo Sports Fan blog. You can reach him on Twitter at: @brianbund

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