Will the Maple Leafs be in on the Brad Richards sweepstakes? Should they be?

It is a complicated scenario made even more vague by the fact that for all sorts of reasons, Toronto general manager Brian Burke and his management team have no interest in discussing the matter publicly in advance of the July 1 free-agency period.

The Leafs got burned, you will remember, on the foiled pursuit of the Sedin twins a couple of years ago and, to add to that frustration, were charged by the NHL with tampering because of seemingly innocent comments made by coach Ron Wilson while the Sedins were still under contract with the Canucks.

Given the fact that Richards is the standalone big-name in this year’s pool and the list of suitors has some heavy hitters, nothing can be gained by Burke tipping his hand.

This much would appear as a consensus opinion on draft weekend, however.

The New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers are each expected to give Richards a long, hard look and like the Leafs, both could use the established superstar centre.

Not long after the season, the soon-to-be former Dallas Star suggested he would take a discount to return to the Tampa Bay Lightning, though that would seem like a stretch.

And let’s add Toronto to the list, with conditions.

Richards is likely looking for a big deal that would send him toward retirement, probably in the eight-year range at close to $7 million a season. That would seem a little north of where Burke generally likes to go, so it will depend on how desperate he feels.

Desperation isn’t something we generally see in the Leafs GM, however. He doesn’t mind spending money and he has the cap room to do so, but Burke is loathe to overspend, especially when free agency turns to frenzy.


65 Responses to Will the Maple Leafs be in on the Brad Richards sweepstakes? Should they be?

  1. reinjosh says:

    What do people think of the Couturier pick? Personally I think it was a stupid pick. With all the potential they have on their team right now on the forwards, they would have been better served picking up a dman to be a long term replacement for Pronger. 

    And no this has nothing to do with trying to screw over the Bruins lol. 
    Gunnarsson has to be available now with the acquisition of Liles. He played much better when he was given top 4 time. He likely won't receive that anymore. So is he available along with MacArthur (possibly) and Kadri? 
  2. Boston_Bruins says:

    I would have taken Hamilton if I were then, but I was a huge fan of his to begin with. I understand taking Couturier after trading Richards and Carter.

    I thought Holmgren was nuts after those trades and the Bryz signing, but he's replenished alot of that lost offense already while now having a good goalie. Their roster looks very similar to Boston's now.

  3. reinjosh says:

    I'm going to make a bold prediction that the Richards trade and Carter trade put a limit on players signing potential long term contracts. 

  4. reinjosh says:

    I mean I guess I see that but I think it was unneeded. You have Voracek, JVR, Giroux, Schenn and to a lesser extend Simmonds as young, talented forwards. You defense is by far the oldest and in need of a youth infusion.

  5. Boston_Bruins says:

    You gotta go with who you think is the BPA though.

  6. reinjosh says:

    I really don't like BPA. It's flawed. A team goes by BPA for their team, which should take into account the team needs and the BPA of the draft. Regardless the difference between Hamilton and Couturier, is it really that much?

  7. reinjosh says:

    hockey-lover, are you more open to moving Staal now than before? 

  8. Boston_Bruins says:

    Things can change quickly though. Guys emerge out of absolutely nowhere and guys you thought would be good fall off the map. It's like goaltending was the Bruins biggest issue the first season after the lockout and then all of a sudden after a journeyman earned his spot and another trade, it's their biggest strength. You don't want to corner yourself into thinking you're forced to take a certain position because you can miss out big time if you do.

  9. hockeylegend488 says:

    The leafs only chance of getting a first line center is threw free agency, and most draft  guys are not ready for first line expectations until entry level deals are done anyways.. and since toronto usually has a history of trading there picks cut the bs and sign richards if he will play8 yrs at 7 per or something simular.

  10. reinjosh says:

    And yet in four years time, I would put money on them having issues at defense and having a backlog of players who are being devalued because they aren't getting proper playing time. Personally, I would have picked Hamilton. Now I'm no GM but I'm predicting Philly has issues in the future because of this pick. 

  11. realistic_leafs_fan says:

    I am actually predicting they have trouble next season, never mind 4 years from now. Of course, my opinion could change depending on what other moves happen before the season starts.

  12. hockeylegend488 says:

    how about schenn and kadri for lecavilier

  13. reinjosh says:

    They have Kadri for Vinny. No chance I'm giving full value for Vinny and that massive contract.

  14. Jets_Back says:

    Taking into account team needs at a draft of 18 year olds where it could take 4-5 years to develop is more flawed.

    These kids have, for the most part, such a long development road ahead that it's hard to predict whether a certain player at a specific position can fill that "hole" in the lineup.

    I think them taking the best player on the board was right. Couturier is getting a rough ride for scoring just 96 points. He is only 18. Some develop at different stages. Nothing wrong with a big, strong centre who can skate and score and is strong in all zones. That is what Couturier is and big centres with that potential are hard to find.

    Besides, Carle, Meszaros, Bartulis, Coburn, they are all under 26 years old. I really don't consider their defense old.

    And besides, it's all about gathering assets, not looking at one position or whatever.

    I think Brian Burke does it best when he fills needs with trades or free agency, and he goes about drafting the best guy out there and just goes out and acquires assets, not worrying all that much about positions. 

    If needs were more important, Burke would have decided to keep the 30th and 39th picks to add depth which is arguably what Toronto needed most, rather than get Tyler Biggs who was the best player on the board still left and a player they felt really high on.

    He did draft Percy, filling a "need" on Defence, but in terms of really filling a need, he did so by trading for Gardiner who is much closer to being ready for the NHL to help right away than Percy.

    That to me is the way to go when you think about filling needs.

  15. MystifoLeafs says:

    I would do kadri for Vinny straight up, sure that contract is horrid but Vinny showed that he can still be a dominate force in the playoffs, plus he has seemed to fade in Tampa a bit with Stamkos being there now.

  16. MystifoLeafs says:

    With LA having just acquired Mike Richards does that mean the likes of Handzus is expendable now and if so how much would it take to get him out of LA? Hes not a real offensive force but he could be what the leafs need to get their PK up and running. Just a thought.

  17. reinjosh says:

    I disagree with that assessment. Your drafting these players to be on your team. Whether that means on your teams next season of in four seasons, it seems like a pretty big flaw to not look at the team need at that point in time and determine (within logical reason) what need would be then. You don't just draft players blissfully because of their talent. Suggesting that is borderline moronic (not based at you, please don't think that). Drafting is an investment and you have to look at whether this player will fit into your team. If that player isn't going to fit well or will get his development stalled because of your teams build, then your not using that asset very well. 

    Now I'm not saying that you should take a player B because it fills a need when player A is vastly more talented than player B. However when they are similar talent wise and you have a huge depth at one position and a huge need at another, you go for the huge need.
    Philly has Simmonds at 22, Voracek at 21,  Giroux at 23, JVR at 22 and to a lesser extent Versteeg at 25 and Nodl at 24. Plus Schenn at 19. You have a top 9 that has 7 significantly talented forwards under 25 with 5 of them being under 23. Of that group Giroux, Voracek, Schenn and JVR have top line potential. Simmonds, Nodl and Versteeg have second line potential. You have your two centers in Schenn and Giroux and you still have the veteran Briere. 
    At defense you have 4 guys who are not top pairing defenders. Sure they have played well and are young but they don't have the talent to carry a defense. Timonen took a significant downstep this year and Pronger could be one injury away from ending his career. You lose them both and your team becomes a whole lot worse.
    Now you have a chance to pick a highly regarded center and a highly regarded dman. Who do you pick? You already have a highly regarded center prospect. The smart play would to fill the biggest need by going after Hamilton. Its not like your really taking the much worse player. 
    The Leafs aren't exactly a good example. Toronto needs elite level talent in its prospect system. Its actually pretty deep. This pick position wasn't going to give us top level talent so Burke went after a player they liked. Percy certainly wasn't the BPA when he was picked.
  18. reinjosh says:

    He's a UFA so we could get him for whatever he wants salary wise.

  19. reinjosh says:

    Eh I think it will be the 2012-2013 season. Timonen's been on a slow downturn since he left the Predators. Its going to hit the Flyers hard that season. Pronger and Him will be 38 then. Two 38 year olds playing for 11 million on the cap? That's going to hurt. 

  20. reinjosh says:

    That moronic comment reads like its directed at you. It's not. 

  21. realistic_leafs_fan says:

    True enough, But as of right now. I see a huge shake-up with only young players coming in on return from those two trades. Although the players coming in are young and have potential…where's the leadership up front coming from? The captain is gone, who was a heart and soul guy, your top goal scorer…also gone.

    Briere, Timonen and Hartnell have to wonder if their NTC/NMC are the only thing that saved them from being traded.

    If they do not right the ship with some veteran leadership…I think they become a middle of the pack playoff team over a contender…if Bryzgalov plays well.

  22. reinjosh says:

    I should also say I understand BPA. It does make sense in most situations. I just don't think it does here. By all accounts the Flyers had a choice of either a potential top line two way center or a top pairing dman. They already have a top line center and a potential top line two way center. I don't think BPA should be employed then. 

  23. reinjosh says:

    I think they can rest safely knowing they won't be traded. I don't think Holmgren is stupid enough to continue the transition. Briere is underrated, overpaid maybe, underrated. Plus Hartnell and Briere have been captains before on different teams. I would bet that Holmgren counted on that when trading Richards. 

    I do think they have a large chance of completely screwing things up. I don't like the 9 year Bryzgalov deal. 
  24. blaze says:

    Handzus is just too slooooow these days. I know the Leafs could use a 3rd line center and PK guy but Handzus just isn't a great fit anymore.

  25. blaze says:

    Bieksa signs 5y, 4.6 mil per. Slight discount I guess, could have had more on the open market. Not surprising he was the first to get locked up.

    Erhoff is going to be more difficult but I can see him extending before July 1st as well, but Gillis is going to have to throw quite a bit of cash his way.

  26. Leafs_Wallace says:

    Erhoff isn't getting an ounce of respect, I'd love to see him go somewhere like long island and light it up.

  27. Leafs_Wallace says:

    The Fylers still have Veino and spare parts to sign, where are they getting cap space for Richards? Is Philly really going to lock up another long term deal with the space they've freed up when they'll have to pay Giroux, JVR and whatever else they're going to develop (i.e. Schenn, ect…)?  Makes little sense.

    Me thinks the wild card is that Philly is targeting Stamkos or Parise via trade.  Ideal scenario is that they trade for an RFA's rights and Holgrem gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar when another team hits that player with a massive offer sheet.

  28. LeafsFTW17 says:

    Someone mentioned earlier (Can't remember who to give credit ) that instead of wating to give Tampa an offer sheet for Stammer, just trade them the 4 first rounders that it would take to get him and throw in Grabovski as well.  Stevie Y would have to take the deal (If he isn't planning on signing SS before July 1) because the most they would get in an offersheet is 4 firsts and by the leafs offering Grabo, Lecavlier could take over first line and Grabo could rock the second line. 
    For the leafs I think that this is better than giving an offersheet because they don't have to over-pay and sign a long term contract that Burke hates doing. Also this clears up space for Kadri or Colborne to play in the NHL(Can't keep them in the minors forever).

    Macarthur – Stamkos – Kessel
    Kulemin – Kadri – Lupul
    UFA – Bozak – Armstrong
    Orr/Rosehill – Brent – Brown

  29. LeafsFTW17 says:

    The Top 6 could be switched up if needed

  30. blaze says:

    Well Gillis would be a fool not to lock him up, and Id love to see that. Erhoff could land the biggest payday on the market of all the FA dman.

  31. blaze says:

    In the end money talks. I don't care so much about the cash as I do about the term. I'd give him 9mil per if he would accept 4 to 5 years.

  32. realistic_leafs_fan says:

    About Hartnell, Timonen and Briere. I meant that they are probably wondering if Holmgren would have traded them instead of Richards and Carter if they didn't have NTC/NMC. I'm sure they feel safe now. I still think Philly is heading for problems within the dressing room. I will be surprised to see them gel and lead or be close to the top of the Eastern Conference with the team they have right now.

  33. leafy says:

    Come to think of it, even if someone offered ONE year at $9 mil, Tampa is still screwed because if they matched, they would have to keep qualifying him or risk losing him for nothing.

  34. Jets_Back says:

    No worries.

    Personally, I feel the supposed drop-off of Couturier was just a blimp in the radar and hardly a sign of things to come. I think this guy, with the right kind of talent surrounding him and right opportunity, should thrive and simply at that point a hard guy for Philadelphia to pass up. Philadelphia is a great situation with lots of talent and youth.

    Now, if that was really Columbus picking there, well that to me is the tougher choice. I think Murphy is going to be an incredible player. He is even better than Ryan Ellis in my mind. With that said, and the dire need for anyone who can skate and pass back on the Jackets Defense, well it there would be a tough choice as that's more need for the Blue Jackets, than taking the best player.

    And while Philadelphia could perhaps use something down the road on defence, at least for the next couple of seasons Pronger and Timonen are going to be around, and they are still high level players. Health will always be an issue, but with Lidstrom winning yet another Norris at age 41, 35 is I guess the new "young"

    On the other hand, Columbus has nothing on D. But that is their own mismangement that did them in there. So the dire need may be more prevalent and the draft by need may be their direction.

    That is why I really feel Philadelphia made a great choice here. The team has next year, or even 2013 to think about that kind of stuff. And, they probably have no qualms of targeting another Pronger like veteran workhorse if necessary. I really think that is how Holmgren and Co. like to do things in Philly.

  35. Boston_Bruins says:

    Stamkos has to accept the offer though. I doubt he'd accept a 1 year deal.

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  37. leafy says:

    Ah yes, but what if he desperately wanted to get out of Tampa?

    That's what makes this whole thing interesting. So many ways you can look at it.

  38. Boston_Bruins says:

    True. Not sure why he'd want out so bad though. Good up-coming team that's already contending, great weather. And he already gets enough media attention, although that would go through the roof in a big market.

  39. blaze says:

    Oops meant for Richards cause we're desperate for a center. Stamkos on the other hand I'd give whatever it took.

  40. Leafs_Wallace says:

    Tor: two 1sts, MacAurthur, Kadri, Komisarek and Grabovski
    TB: Stamkos

    Sign Richards 8yrs 56 million

    Sign Eric Cole 2 yrs 9 million

    Sign Upshall 2 yrs 4 million

    Cole  – Stamkos – Kulemin
    Lupul – Richards – Kessel
    Upshall – Bozak – Armstrong
    Brown – Brent – Orr

    Phaneuf – Aulie
    Liles – Schenn
    Gunnerson – Finger


    Possibly a playoff team

  41. Jets_Back says:

    That is not enough for Stamkos.

    I really believe at least one of Schenn or Kulemin, if not both, have to be included.

    Tampa Bay would probably have to spend $9 million plus to pay for MacArthur, Komisarek and Grabovski as is. I believe Tampa would prefer to spend that kind of money even on just one player, especially one of Stamkos' talents.

    Do not forget, Grabovski is to become an unrestricted free agent in a year. Same with MacArthur. Financially it would not be a huge relief.

    If they were to spend money, I believe Tampa would spend it on sure things, like a Kulemin and/or Schenn or just keep Stamkos.

    It is an attractive package, but not good enough to fit the needs of the Lightning.

  42. DannyLeafs says:

    I was thinking that when they got those packages. In all honesty, what team has a better chance of putting a package together that could really entice Yzerman to trade Stamkos should he not be able to get a deal done.

    Philly not only has their 4 firsts that any team could offer, but they have guys like JVR, Voracek, Strome, Schenn, and Simmonds that I am sure they would be willing to part with to get the deal done. Think about that kind of offer, a couple future firsts, then 3 former top 10 picks that are developing well? If I was Yzerman and I was even considering moving Stamkos, you would figure he would have to at least give Holmgren a call.

    There is always the fact that Clarke has said several times that he thinks Stamkos is a special player, and he thinks when their careers are all said and done that people will view him as the top 3 player of his era, with the potential to be the very best. I know Clarke doesn't make the decisions, but if your Holmgren and you did something this bold, it would be a good way to get some management faith in you, even if he overpaid.

    What if he did offer a package of say: JVR, Schenn, Strome, and his next 3 firts? Would that land Stamkos, more importantly, would any other team be able to come remotely close to that package? Meaning if Holmgren were willing to pay that price, does that mean it's either Philly or Tampa for Stamkos?

  43. DannyLeafs says:

    Don't know why I was thinking Strome was in Philly, replace that with Courturier, but I think my point is still the same. Philly could give up a ton of high end talent, and picks. There system would be barren afterward, but it's not that detrimental when you have guys like Stamkos, Giroux, Voracek, and Simmonds the team has enough youth currently in the line up that it would buy them time to replenish.

  44. Leafs_Wallace says:

    That's more than enough, Stamkos is worth four 1st round picks, that is the compensation.

    My proposal is two 1sts, a young thirty goal scoring center and one of the leagues best prospects in Kadri plus a salary dump to help Tampa reach the floor in Komisarek and MacAurthur who should be worth more than a 1st rounder from a random team that offer sheets Stamkos.

    Tampa has a shot a resigning Garbo and Mac, they can't give Stamkos the long term 8 + he's earned.

    Yzerman doesn't hold much power in this situation, no one wants to play for Tampa if they can't afford to spend to the cap. 

    Again it's not like Yzerman can demand whatever he wants, Burke can just offer sheet Stamkos long term front loaded at 9 per season and Tampa is screwed, they can't afford and do they want to match for a resentful Stamkos?

    Burke won't be breaking his word in making an offer sheet as he can say he first gave a better offer than 4 first rounders and gave Yzerman fair warning in advance.

    The best part is that we can finally see how Yzerman handles failure, no more coasting in Detroit riches or inheriting a GM's dream job. 

  45. Leafs_Wallace says:

    You're talking about a Lindros type deal, does Philly really want to set up Tampa for years while giving themselves cap issues and a depleted farm system?

    I can see Schenn plus another good prospects and a couple firsts but nothing too extreme, they can use the offer sheet, Holgrem isn't shy with those and leave it at that.  At least they can put pressure on Yzerman with an offer sheet, you don't just let Yzerman dictate the terms, you bully him a little.

  46. DannyLeafs says:

    I don't think it would be that simple.

    First, I don't think Tampa is as undesirable as you make it seem. Great weather, and a team that just made it to the conference finals. They have some good players and prospects outside of Stamkos, and they made it to the conference finals without Stamkos being a huge contributor.

    Second, Burke won't out and out offer sheet Stamkos. Chances are, teams will get in a bidding war for his rights, likely driving the price up. I think 4 first round picks is the bottom value he would go for, not fair value. I think Tampa would prefer a package similar to the one you suggest, but maybe take out MacArthur and add a good prospect or another 1st, Kulemin, or Schenn (with some other asset Juggling). The fact is MacArthur could very well be a UFA when all is said and done, so he likely doesn't hold much value in Yzerman's eyes.

    Third, there would be no need for Yzerman to take back unwanted salary in this deal. Tampa can easily reach the floor without taking back Komisarek in the deal.

    The power Yzerman holds in this situation is that Stamkos is so desirable, that even if he became offer sheeted to an amount that Yzerman couldn't handle, I believe Yzerman can trade the right to match the sheet for whatever he wanted. So say Toronto did come in with an offersheet, then Yzerman could trade Stamkos rights to a third team for a better package than 4 firsts, and they could match and retain Stamkos.

    The way the system is set up is that the team that makes the offersheet gives up any control of the situation. So with Stamkos, there would be several teams interested, and putting together an offersheet could be shooting yourself in the foot. Think about it, say your a rival GM, and another team swooped in an gave Stamkos and offer sheet. Yzerman is probably a little bitter, so you just offer slightly more compensation, like 4 firsts and a decent prospect, or 4 firsts and some 2nd's even. If your Yzerman and losing Stamkos anyway, you probably just take the deal to get that little extra bit, and to screw over the team that tried to bully you. All the while the team that submitted the offersheet has no control over the situation because submitting an offersheet is like locking in your best offer and making it known to all the other bidders.

    The only way an offersheet would be viable is if you made it an amount that no team in the league would consider signing that player to. With Stamkos, I am not sure that number exists. Outside maybe an 15 year 11.5 million dollar cap hit, and even then, would you want to give up 4 firsts to have that contract?

  47. DannyLeafs says:

    Stamkos would be too desirable to several other teams for that to work. The problem isn't the power over Yzerman, it's the power over a third team. Putting together an offersheet as a threat could work to get the conversation going, but actually signing one would be a terrible idea since then all Yzerman has to do is accept or decline. If he decides he doesn't want to sign it, all he has to do is go "hey, anyone willing to offer me slightly better than 4 firsts to get Stamkos at such and such a price?". If that happened a third GM could easily just snatch Stamkos away, and the team that submitted the offersheet would have no control over the situation. As long as that threat is there, and in this situation I 100% believe it is, Yzerman maintains some level of control, and a deal for more than 4 firsts is going to have to be worked out.

    Also, the Lindros comparison is valid, but had Lindros stayed healthy, I think the Flyers could have eventually won a cup. So that deal wasn't that terrible solely based on the trade, it turned out bad mainly because Lindros got his bell rung. Not saying that isn't a legitimate risk when dealing so many assets for a single player, but had Lindros stayed Healthy he would likely have been one of the best players of his generation.

    For the Leafs the best case scenario would be if Holmgren did come in an submit an offer sheet. There isn't a contract that Holmgren could offer that the Leafs would likely not match, so if that was the case, Burke could just say, I'll raise you a Kadri and likely snatch Stamkos rights and match the deal. I just hope Holmgren doesn't offer Stamkos an offersheet that isn't hard for Tampa to afford. Say he does something stupid like 6 years 7.5 million. It might be a little higher than Yzerman wanted, but he would definitely match that.

  48. DannyLeafs says:

    Hey Leafs Wallace. My bad, after reviewing the rules pertaining to it, that scenario I just wasted my time describing at length is not valid.

    According to the rules in the current CBA, once a player signs an offer sheet his rights are locked. He cannot be traded for a period of 12 months afterward by either team. Essentially, an offersheet gives a player a 1 year NTC on this contract, and that contract must be upheld either by his new team, or his old team.

    So disregard all the nonsense about trading his rights after the offer, that isn't true.

  49. Leafs_Wallace says:

    The third party has to be a team that believes that they can get a deal done with Stamkos or else he's not worth the sacrifice.  So it'd have to be a big market team that could afford and continue to build around him. 

    I'd say that would leave….

    The Good Guys? We've dissected our chances at landing him enough

    Philly? see above

    LA? Lombardi has made his splash, look for him to go back into a ten year hibernation

    NYR?ark horse but they'll love making an empty headline

    NJ? I think Lou is a genius but too much on his plate with Parise

    Detroit? Michigan makes Winnipeg look like LA so I don't see Stamkos wanted to move the G20's capital of sadness

    Ottawa? I'm just putting them here because I think them a fit in terms of assets they can give up if they want to flip their rebuild script

    The rest of the league is either a nothing market or too cap strapped (i.e. Boston would be too busy managing their own to get in on the race)

    So I can't find the menacing third party inflating the value.

  50. Leafs_Wallace says:

    Good to know and always nice to chew the fat with someone who researches.

    I don't see a bidding war for Stamkos given that I don't see a GM desperate to blow his team up to land him unless their already a rebuilding team in which case they're can't realistically hope to sign him.

    I see it between TB, Toronto and Philly and neither Philly or Toronto eager to go nuclear and push the button.

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