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Nothing but confusion and a concussion in latest round of Brad Richards rumors

Feb 24, 2011, 12:40 PM EDT

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The latest Brad Richards trade rumors revolve around Dallas Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk’s supposedly requesting a package that includes Brandon Dubinsky, Marc Staal and Derek Stepan to move the league’s eighth-leading scorer to New York Rangers. Larry Brooks of the New York Post writes that Rangers GM Glen Sather “laughed off” the deal, but in times when it’s difficult to separate conjecture from comedy, it’s quite possible that Nieuwendyk made the request in jest.

Then again, it’s easy for one’s head to start spinning with all the confusing details. The most important thing to remember regarding Richards was also one of the driving factors of the NBA’s much-publicized Carmelo Anthony trade: Richards’ will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. That means two things: either the team that trades for him will require him to sign an extension or they’ll be willing to give up a lot less being that he may only be a “rental.”

One of the biggest problems with the latter possibility is that Richards is also dealing with concussion issues. Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News reports that Richards won’t play again before the trade deadline due to his head injury. Heika notes that it’s at least legal to trade injured players in the NHL, although getting another team to agree to a deal is another story, obviously.

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.

Ultimately, it causes the kind of confusion that could give you a sub-concussive headache. On one end, Yahoo’s Nick Cotsonika reports that Nieuwendyk denied that Rangers rumor and Heika writes that the GM denied shopping the center around. Yet conversely, the former player turned GM admitted “all options are in play” on NHL Live yesterday.

In other words, it’s a big mess made even more complicated by the Stars’ well-documented ownership issues. Dallas has four more days to move Richards or they’ll face the all-or-nothing proposition of trying to sign him to a contract or letting him go for nothing but cap space.

Naturally, we will keep you updated as the next four days goes along, but we won’t pretend to be soothsayers here. It’s all up to Richards, his agent, Nieuwendyk and 29 other general managers at this point.

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