It’s awfully early to go looking ahead towards the off-season at who is going to be an unrestricted free agent, but one of the players that figures to get a lot of attention then if he’s available is Stars forward Brad Richards. Richards is one of the best set-up men in the league, perpetually at the top of assist lists year in and year out and he’s in the final year of his deal with the Dallas Stars.
Ideally, the Stars would love to lock him up with an extension, but with the team’s ownership in flux with Tom Hicks looking to get out of owning the team, spending the kind of cash needed to keep Richards in town is a major hang-up to getting anything done as The Sun’s Eric Francis discusses.
While both sides would love to start hammering out a deal, Nieuwendyk’s hands are tied by his club’s ownership uncertainty brought on by Tom Hicks’ company’s default on US$525 million in bank loans backed by the Stars and half his rink earlier this year.
“We had some informal discussions and decided if you can’t get instructions from ownership you’re talking in a vacuum,” said Richards’ agent, Pat Morris. “So instead of getting the player or the team excited about anything, we’ll have to wait.”
Question is, how long will it take for new ownership to be solidified? It could be awhile.
“I’m not worried about it now because we’re four games in, we’re off to a good start (4-0) and Brad is a big part of that,” said Nieuwendyk of the future contract talks with the league’s current scoring leading.
“At some point, I’ll have to talk to the league because we’ll have to get down to business.”
Why the Stars would have to talk to the NHL is because in situations where ownership is hung up in the air, the NHL functions as a proxy to square away major money moves and re-signing Brad Richards would certainly qualify as such because it would be a long-term commitment to big money. Obviously the best solution to this is to hope the Stars get a new owner in place sooner rather than later, but if that doesn’t happen this season the Stars will be in the uncomfortable position of having to decide whether or not to trade Richards lest they risk losing him to free agency at the end of the season and getting nothing in return.
We’re a ways away from that even being a possibility, but it’s something the Stars do have to keep in mind as the season goes on. With how Richards’ season has already started, the offers that could come in for his services might be too juicy to pass up. With two goals and seven assists through four games and leading the Stars to a 4-0-0 record the demand across the league would be at a record high. The Stars just hope they don’t end up in the position of having to make a very difficult choice come spring.
As of right now the Stars 2011-2012 season salary commitment is at 41.2million with 11 forwards, 4 defensemen, 2 goalies under contract. If you add say Gagnon, and Vincour and for arguments sake bring back Sutherby at 1 million your looking at probably 2.4 million. Then you need 3 defensemen, currently the expiring contract of Karlis, Daley, and Woywitka add up to 4.85 million. So if your willing to go by the theory that Robidas, Grossman, Fistric= top 4 defensmen, and Joe makes some more value moves and bring in 3 guys at 5 million then we are now at a running total of 48.6 million and a full roster minus the minor loss of Richards lol.
If again for arguments sake Joe can come to a value deal of like 5 years 31.25, 6.25 salary(Which is average 2010 salaries of Thorton, Kane, St.Louis, Gaborik who are the #6,8,9,10 scorers from last season) that leaves a salary total of 54.85 million(almost 10 million above the current 45 million dollar imposed budget). A heck of a difference.
So if the Coyotes can spend that much under ownership flux, maybe the NHL can intervene in the situation and drop the hammer on the situation. Not to mention the Coyotes players currently without a contract for next season; Bryzgalov, Labarbarra, Yandle, Lepisto, Jovanovski, Korpikoski, Belanger, Prucha, Fiddler, Upshall, Turris, Vrbata. Now I cannot see this team icing a competitive squad without keeping a lot of these key players, many of whom will be looking for nice raises.
Now I could not begin to explain what the NHL's options are in helping Joe out with his dilemna, however we all know how much Bettman wants to make his franchises successful in their current markets. I don't know if the NHL would be able to take control of the Stars sale, or force/help the payroll issue. Or simply have the legal capacity to force the sale since there are 2 serious bidders out of Canada.
Toronto Sun “Tom Hicks and Joe Nieuwendyk are in charge of the day-to-day business decisions in Dallas,” said NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly. “But due to the possibly imminent sale of the club, major financial transactions — especially those that may have lasting impacts on the club’s operations moving forward — are, as a matter of practice, vetted through the league."
It is at least good to hear the NHL has an eye on the situation. But as is said above the best solution is for the Sale of the club to get finalized and resolved soon rather than later, but maybe there is a glimmer of hope that if it doesn't Joe may have options other than trading #91.