L.A. hot for Richards sweepstakes

With the NHL now into its second quarter, weaknesses and strengths are revealing themselves.

That said, you can add the Los Angeles Kings to the potential list of teams that will be in pursuit of forward Brad Richards should the potential unrestricted free agent be put on the market by the Dallas Stars.

The Kings need someone to play on the left side of Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown to fill out the club’s top-six group and give them two solid offensive lines.

“He has also won a Stanley Cup which is important for a young group like the Kings,” one insider said. “He has played the wing, too.”

The Kings have the prospects and the cap space to put together a package for Richards should the Stars — who are unsettled in the ownership suite — decide to move him before the trade deadline.

HEAR AND THERE: Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher keeps things fresh and different for the Lightning. The Bolts’ prep for Friday night’s game against the Caps in Washington? Ball hockey on Pennsylvania Ave., outside the White House … Brian and Stephen Gionta could face each other in a game for the first time Thursday when Brian’s Habs play Stephen’s Devils. Brian, 31, is older by four years and they’ve never played each other at any level … The St. Louis Blues are the only team without a loss in regulation time at home (8-0-1) and, going back to last season, they are 14-0-1 at home in their past 15. They were 17-18-5 at Scottrade Center last season. They are 20-5-3 at home since Davis Payne took over as coach.

THE BUZZ: Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff doesn’t have any doubt Sidney Crosby could have put up Wayne Gretzky-like numbers if Crosby was playing 20 years ago. “He would have ran away with the game, just like Gretzky did,” Ruff said. “The game is a lot tougher now. He’s still thriving in a tougher game. The depth of players in the game now is a lot better going back to the early ’80s, when teams usually had one good line or possibly two.” … Devils G Martin Brodeur is skating on his own this weekend as he recovers from that elbow injury … Patrick O’Sullivan gets another shot, this time from the Minnesota Wild, the team that originally drafted him in 2003. “Patrick scored 20 goals in the NHL before, scored nearly 50 in the American League. I don’t see any risk in picking him up. To me, there is a risk in not picking him up,” Wild GM Chuck Fletcher said. “You let a skill guy like that go by you, it’s difficult to find that type of skill in your system. We felt he’s way ahead of anybody we have in Houston (of the AHL) right now.” At 25, O’Sullivan is already with his fourth NHL team. He scored in his first game with the Wild. “It’s up to me to get back to that higher level,” said O’Sullivan, whose relationship with his abusive father was well publicized during his junior career.

http://www.torontosun.com/sports/columnists/chris_stevenson/2010/11/26/16334696.html