- Pierre LeBrun, NHL
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Joe Nieuwendyk couldn't win no matter what he did.
Trade Brad Richards and you shipwreck a season in which you're currently sitting in a playoff spot.
Keep Brad Richards and risk losing him for nothing on July 1.
Lose or lose. Take your pick.
So let's cut the Dallas Stars' GM some slack. He investigated the market, set the bar really high for what it would take to rent out Mr. Richards, and when the New York Rangers, in particular, couldn't meet that price, did the right thing and kept the best player on 2010-11 Stars roster.
The hope now is that the Stars' ownership situation resolves itself in time for Nieuwendyk to open the newly minted vault for Richards before noon ET on July 1.
Know this: Richards loves it in Dallas and the Stars will get a serious opportunity at re-signing him as long as there's a new owner in place. What he doesn't like is ownership instability. Had that in Tampa and it followed him to Dallas. Ownership stability a big factor for him come July 1 and you better bet the Rangers will be on his radar. But let's cross that path in four months.
I think Rangers fans should be pleased/relieved their team didn't sell the farm for Richards on Monday. The club is finally at a point after years of shortcuts and Band-Aid trades/signings of relying on a core of drafted and developed players. Stay with the plan. July 1 will come and the Rangers will get their shot at Richards without giving up a single asset. The price on Monday? "Too much," said a Rangers source.
After making some post-deadline calls to other sources Monday, a look at other players who didn't move:
• David Booth, Panthers. The Los Angeles Kings circled back and chatted with Florida again Monday but ultimately decided Dustin Penner was a better fit. Booth was happy to stay put, telling ESPN.com via text message a few hours before the deadline passed: "I want to stay and be part of the solution here in Florida. We're gonna be good really soon and I want to be here for it." The Panthers all along said they would only move him if they got really wowed. They weren't.
• Tomas Vokoun, Panthers. Not for a lack of trying but Florida didn't move him. There was almost no interest, which in part comes from his $5.7 million cap hit and in part from playoff-bound teams being set in goal. One unidentified team did call at the 11th hour with an offer that the Panthers felt was far from ideal. So now he hits the UFA market July 1.
• Zenon Konopka, Islanders. The Anaheim Ducks took a run at him but the asking price was a second-round pick. Too rich for their blood. In the end, the versatile, gritty center, a terrific faceoff man, didn't move and he's slated for UFA status July 1. Still lots of time for New York to sign him.
• Johnny Oduya, Thrashers. Atlanta got lots of calls on him Monday but he's got another year on his deal next season at $4 million so no urgency to move him. The Thrashers had contemplated for a while whether they would move him, however, which is why his name was out there.
• Ales Hemsky, Oilers. The silky winger has another year on his deal at $4.1 million, which is why the Oilers were never that eager to move him. If you wanted him, you'd have to pay lots. The Kings found that out with the Oilers refusing to move off their request of Brayden Schenn in any trade for Hemsky. Hence, the Kings shifted gears and focused on Penner.
• Joni Pitkanen, Hurricanes. The UFA-to-be was in trade rumors all season long but on Monday, the Hurricanes didn't try to move him, a team source said. "Not even close," the source said when asked how close he came to moving. All along GM Jim Rutherford's stance was that he would need to get blown away by an offer.
• Filip Kuba, Senators. Ottawa would have liked to have moved him. Two teams inquired on him Monday but never really made actual offers. He's got another year on his deal at $3.7 million next season, and you can bet the Sens will try to move him in the offseason.
• Chuck Kobasew, Wild. The UFA-to-be, through his agent, had quietly urged the Wild to try and find a new home for him but it didn't materialize. Fact is, the Wild were only offered middling picks for him Monday and that just doesn't make any sense for them. They're trying to make the playoffs and they're already down two key forwards in Mikko Koivu and Guillaume Latendresse. So you understand why a deal didn't happen.
• Ladislav Smid, Oilers. The RFA-to-be was a hotly scouted player the past few weeks from opposing teams, including Chicago. But one NHL GM told ESPN.com that the Oilers were asking too much for him. He didn't move and, quite frankly, the Oilers are better off keeping him. They're not that deep on the blue line. Sign him.
• Tim Connolly, Sabres. The center is an UFA July 1 and while it's possible he'll be a goner this summer and the Sabres won't get an asset for him, they looked at their playoff chances and decided they needed all hands on deck this season. The right move in my mind. Another key factor in not moving him was that with the loss of Derek Roy for the season, they were thin at center anyway.
• John-Michael Liles, Avalanche. All that speculation and in the end he doesn't even move. The Maple Leafs liked him but knew early Monday they were out, the Avs saying they weren't moving him to Toronto. It's believed the Leafs never offered more than a third-round pick. With Liles under contract for another season at $4.2 million (cap hit), you can't just justify moving him for anything less than a first-rounder in my mind.
Pierre LeBrun covers the NHL for ESPN.com.