Recent comments by Dallas Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk has pushed center Brad Richards back into the trade rumor spotlight.
Nieuwendyk told ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun that, while his first choice is still to re-sign Richards, he's considering all his options, which includes a trade.
Continuing uncertainty over the club's ownership situation combined with its slide down the Western Conference standings has Nieuwendyk mulling options, but he pointed out it would take a considerable offer to pry Richards out of Dallas.
Richards' health and no-movement clause could limit interest. He's presently sidelined with concussion-like symptoms and while he's making progress, Nieuwendyk said the center probably wouldn't return before the trade deadline.
LeBrun speculated the Los Angeles Kings would be amongst the clubs interested in Richards, as would the New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs, though they'd likely want permission to speak with his agent about a possible contract extension. Otherwise, teams could wait and pursue him once he becomes an unrestricted free agent in July.
Larry Brooks of the New York Post reported a source claimed Nieuwendyk was seeking defenseman Marc Staal and centers Brandon Dubinsky and Derek Stepan from the Rangers, but the Stars GM denied he'd spoken with the Rangers about specific players.
Muddying the waters further was a report from Jesse Spector of the New York Daily News citing a source who claimed the Stars were buyers, not sellers, which would rule out parting with Richards at the deadline.
When Richards was healthy and the Stars were still perched third overall in the Western Conference, Nieuwendyk wasn't entertaining the notion of moving his top center. If the Stars were still riding high in the standings in Richards’ absence the GM wouldn’t have considered a trade.
But with his team in free fall and in need of a boost it's clear Nieuwendyk’s willing to put the trade option on the table, provided, of course, Richards agrees to waive his movement clause and the return is worthwhile, helping the Stars both now and in the future.
It's not a certainty Richards will be dealt and wouldn't be surprising if he's still on the Stars roster after the 3 p.m. EST trade deadline on Monday, but a trade now has to be considered a possibility.
WILL PHILLIPS STAY OR GO?
Ottawa defenseman Chris Phillips and his agent continue to talk contract extension with the Senators and it appears things will go right down to the wire on deadline day.
Phillips has maintained his desire to remain a Senator and aid in the club's rebuilding. Both sides have discussed an extension and GM Bryan Murray apparently sent an offer to the defenseman's agent on Thursday with the hope of re-signing him prior to the trade deadline.
Phillips is in the final season of his four-year contract worth $3.5 million per and it's believed he'll have to accept a lesser deal - both in term and dollars - to remain a Senator.
He continues to be linked to other teams in trade rumors, but his no-movement clause limits potential destinations.
PICK OF THE LITTER
Keep an eye on the Florida Panthers between now and Monday's deadline as GM Dale Tallon is expected to make one or more significant deals.
Prior to Tallon's shipping of veteran winger Cory Stillman on Thursday to the Carolina Hurricanes for winger Ryan Carter and a draft pick, TSN's Darren Dreger reported defenseman Bryan McCabe, left winger David Booth and center Stephen Weiss were “hot commodities,” but came with what Dreger called “complications.”
Tallon has to decide if Booth and Weiss are worth retaining as part of his efforts to rebuild the team, while McCabe has to decide if he's willing to finish this season with the Panthers even if they opt not to re-sign him.
McCabe and Weiss both carry full no-movement clauses, while Booth has a limited no-trade clause.
Prior to the Stillman deal there was speculation Weiss was about to be moved, but as of Thursday evening he hadn't been asked to waive his clause and Tallon claimed moving Weiss or Booth would be a long shot.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.