A few exciting new options have been given to Toronto, gift-wrapped with playoff hopes. Both have come up just today, their names being Nikolai Zherdev, and Brad Richards. Although both are rental players... with one year remaining on each contract, they could be the solution to the playoff drought. If not this year, then a great chance at the next. I mean, really, be honest with yourselves and give me a legitimate reason as to why either of them wouldn't want to play in Toronto?
Brad Richards... Although giving up Richards would basically be putting Dallas back to square one, were they ever really past square one in the first place?
"All options are in play here. It's certainly not my first choice. I've maintained all along that we'd like to keep Brad as a Dallas Star for a long period of time. There's a lot of uncertainty with our side as far as ownership that are a concern for them. But, all options are open. It's certainly going to have to be a good type of deal in order to pry him away from us because we are sitting tied for eighth right now and have a lot of home games coming up in March." Those were the words of the Stars GM, Joe Nieuwendyk on the situation of Richards at the moment.
The time is perfect for Toronto... Dallas clearly is not ready, and needs to keep gathering youth. Toronto has the cap space, and a fairly decent wealth of youth as well as two first round picks in the upcoming draft. Earlier in the season, the Stars centerman already said that in the summer should he test free agency, that Toronto would be a much considered destination.
Toronto at the end of the season, should have 15million + in cap space, with the likes of Luke Schenn, Tyler Bozak, Carl Gunnarsson, Clarke Mcarthur to re-sign. Presumably, if Richards wants in, they'll make the space for him. They have been in dire need of landing a first line centerman for Phil Kessel, and Brad Richards looks like the last chance to do it soon.
If Richards were to jump on board, he'd bring a cup ring, and some much needed experience to the team. Potentially helping the development of Nazem Kadri, Joe Colborne, Tyler Bozak, all being centerman.
Now onto Zherdev... I really see no harm in putting a claim in on a player with as much talent as Zherdev. He'll be off the roster at the end of the season should they let him walk, but he'll add a lot to their roster should they re-sign him. He can only help... you look at his former team, they are loaded with top six, right down into their bottom 6. If Toronto were to lock up Zherdev, next year's roster would hold atleast 7 top-six forwards with Kadri or Colborne hopefully joining the mix.
There is really nothing to lose by bringing in Zherdev. The young winger is 6'2'', and weighs in at approximately 203lbs. Scoring is something the Leafs lack a lot of, and it's tough to deny raw talent like Zherdev. Maybe an all-Russian line would work wonders with chemistry?
These two players both add very interesting options to a hopeful playoff berth within the near future. I really see no fault in landing either, if not both players. The Leafs need scoring, both of the players put up good numbers, and the cost of acquiring them could be well, the Leafs putting their name back on the cup.