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Brad Richards, Jeff Carter and the rumor mill

It’s hardly breaking news that Brad Richards will be a free agent on July 1.  Now, whether the Leafs a) have a shot or b) should even be focusing their efforts on a player like Richards is up for debate.  (I’ve posted previously that, as nice a player as Richards is, I’d be interested in the Brad Richards of five years ago, not the older, more worn-down, high-cost Richards of today…)

But the talk that won’t go away is that the Leafs will make a run at Jeff Carter of the Flyers. (We can talk another time about the RFA wish list, you know, guys like Stamkos, Hedman, etc. though I just don’t see it.  Teams will just match whatever their young stars are offered but hey, it's a fun summertime discussion....)

Now, it strikes me that, whether the Leafs are in play on that one or not (and Flyer officials claim Carter is going nowhere...), this may be one of those “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” situations.  It just seems that every year we hear that Carter could be on the move, though he is acknowledged as a solid, hard-edged player.  Not sure why Philly would entertain thoughts of dealing him, but I don’t know their cap situation and don’t see the team night in and night out.

We keep hearing there are on-again, off-again dressing room issues within the team, but I have no clue how accurate those suggestions are and if they are accurate, who management may be willing to trade in an effort to defuse the “problem”.

Carter is a top-six forward, and certainly would be a nice fit with the Leafs.  But he’d be a nice fit on probably 20 or so other NHL teams, too.

What do you have to give up to get him?  Kessel?  Kadri and some picks?

The value that Burke has brought to the Leafs, to me (beyond the obvious infusion of some prospects/assets) is that when he has made trades, he hasn’t given up anything of substance from the roster.

He’s added Kessel for picks (albeit a number 2 and number 9 overall, a significant price…).  Phaneuf and Aulie were acquired for players who had minor roles in Toronto.

Beauchemin brought a return of Lupul and Gardiner, and again, Beauchemin, while a generally solid, hard-working defenseman, was a modest price to give up for a much younger rearguard and a scoring winger. 

Versteeg brought a first-rounder (and word is he may be on the move yet again...).  Kaberle drew a first-rounder and Colborne.

I would argue that Versteeg was the only young guy with a long-term NHL future, and in return, Burke has added legitimate high-end players in Kessel, Phaneuf, Aulie (emerging), Lupul (arguably high-end, at least) and former first-rounders well advanced in their development in Gardiner and Colborne.

Plus, of course, those two first-rounders that the Leafs have in this month’s entry draft, and Boston’s second-rounder (for Kaberle).

My point?  Burke is clearly not a fan of giving up a lot off his roster.  So what can he deal to get Carter?

Is Kadri a roster player right now, or still a “prospect”?  Not sure, but regardless, I have to believe he is available in the right deal and that those two first-rounders are in play, for sure, too.

So Richards, if it’s realistic, great.  He’s not a savior, but he is a good, still relatively young player.

Just don’t give up too much.

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