I talked to Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk this morning, and he said he does not expect that Brad Richards will play in a game before Monday's trade deadline.
Richard is suffering from concussion-like symptoms after getting hit in the jaw Feb. 13, and has not skated since. There are only two games before the trade deadline, and one is tomorrow at Detroit, so the statement makes a lot of sense.
``He hasn't even practiced, so we're not just going to throw him in a game,'' Nieuwendyk said. ``He has to feel good enough to work out, and then he has to feel good enough to practice, and then he has to feel good enough to get on the ice and play in a game. Those are a lot of steps, and we're not going to rush them. We want Brad to be healthy, and our first concern is him being healthy.''
Richards can become an unrestricted free agent in the summer, so the Stars do have to consider whether they should try to keep him and sign him or whether they should trade him and at least not lose him for nothing. The NHL does allow you to trade an injured player. One of the best examples was Colorado trading for Jose Theodore back in 2006 when he had an injured Achilles tendon. He played only five regular season games for the Avs and then led them to a first round upset over the Stars. So, there still is the possibility a team might have interest in Richards and might make an offer to Nieuwendyk, but the GM said he is not shopping Richards around.
``It's the same answer it has been. Our first priority is to re-sign Brad Richards to a long-term contract. That is what we would like to do,'' Nieuwendyk said. ``However, we have to be open to any possibility and we have to be open to situation that could improve our team.''
There are a lot of rumors out there, and Nieuwendyk would not talk about any of them, but I get the feeling it would take a huge offer for Richards to be traded. The Stars believe they can win with this lineup and they believe they can eventually re-sign Richards if they get a new owner.
``This has been difficult, but it is what it is and we have to fight through it,'' Nieuwendyk said of a 2-10-1 slump. ``We're getting some people healthy, and I think you can see the difference that makes. Not only will a player like Jamie Benn or Adam Burish help immediately, they will probably help players like Brenden Morrow or Mike Ribeiro, or Steve Ott or Stephane Robidas or Loui Eriksson get better. You can see that players like that have been pushing very hard, and if we can get back to a little more balance, that's going to help everyone.''
Nieuwendyk said he has the ability to add another player at the trade deadline, but it would have to be the right player.
The Stars already have added Jamie Langenbrunner, Jason Williams and Alex Goligoski in the last month, so they have a lot of new bodies they are trying to adapt. That said, Nieuwendyk continues to say that they are doing their work, they are making phone calls and they are open to anything that they can afford that can make them a better team.