James Neal, Loui Eriksson, Brad Richards

Reports: Progress being made in Dallas Stars sale?

Earlier today, TSN’s Darren Dreger reported that the outlook for the sale of the Dallas Stars has improved to the point that “all parties involved (including the NHL) have an agreement in price.” Stars beat writer Mike Heika refuted those claims – though not necessarily the overall hint of optimism regarding the sale – writing that one source said that the rumor of an agreed-upon price “just isn’t true.”

While the lack of a concrete price might be a disappointment to Stars fans amid the team’s slump and the worries of losing crucial offensive catalyst Brad Richards to free agency, it’s important to again note that Heika’s report was still positive.

Heika passed along information from unnamed sources who said that “activity around the sale of the team is high” and “the buyers are getting much more serious about the price that the lenders are seeking, but that a deal is not close at this time.”

He then goes on to explain how the Stars sale could be similar and different from how the Texas Rangers’ situation was handled.

If you study the Texas Rangers sale, I just think the lenders will eventually try to create an auction situation. They can’t do that in an organized bankruptcy (like they did with the Rangers), because the NHL doesn’t want to go into bankruptcy court, and because the split ownership of American Airlines Center with the Mavericks creates all sorts of complications in bankruptcy. However, there are several buyers who have put a lot of time and due diligence into this process, and they all want their shot in the end to at least be considered serious buyers.

The lenders’ strategy in this process has been that the economy would improve and that the ability to get more money would increase, and that appears to be what is happening. But as old buyers and new buyers get more serious, it would seem logical that the lenders will want those buyers to battle for the right to get the team. Now, could this backfire and all buyers back off (as they did earlier)? Sure. Just as easily, one buyer could put up a big number right now and keep an auction from ever getting started. In the end, the lenders would rather not fund losses for the rest of this season.

Putting aside their recent hiccups, the Stars have been surprisingly successful this season. It’s been a shame to watch a winning (and far more offensively aggressive) team play in front of such paltry crowds during most Dallas home games. Hopefully the team will settle its ownership situation, make a run for the playoffs and manage to retain Richards for the future.

Even most non-Stars fans should be able to admit that it would be a shame to see the Richards-Loui Eriksson-James Neal line split up at its peak, so hopefully the team can sort out its behind the scenes issues in time.

Isles claim goalie Berube off waivers

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jaroslav Halak
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The New York Islanders have claimed goalie Jean-Francois Berube off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, the club announced today.

Berube won the Calder Cup last season with AHL Manchester, but the 24-year-old has yet to appear in an NHL game.

That the Isles claimed Berube could be evidence that Jaroslav Halak will not be ready to start the season after all.

If that’s the case, Berube would back up Thomas Greiss, with Stephon Williams expected to go to the AHL.

The Isles open their regular season Friday at home versus the Blackhawks, then play the next day in Chicago.

Leafs claim Corrado from Canucks, waive Panik

Frank Corrado
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The Toronto Maple Leafs have claimed one of the more intriguing players placed on waivers — former Vancouver defenseman Frank Corrado.

Corrado, 22, was waived by the Canucks on Monday. The former OHL standout had appeared in 28 career games for Vancouver — including 10 last year — but was squeezed out of an NHL spot following the emergence of Ben Hutton, who surprised many onlookers by making the 23-man roster.

Canucks GM Jim Benning will receive criticism for losing an asset like Corrado for nothing. Several Vancouver pundits warned of exposing a young, promising d-man to waivers and those warnings ultimately proved accurate.

With Toronto, Corrado could push for playing time as the club indicated on Monday veteran d-man Sephane Robidas wouldn’t be with the team to start the year. That would leave the the Leafs with seven healthy blueliners: Dion Phaneuf, Jake Gardiner, Roman Polak, Morgan Rielly, Matt Hunwick, Martin Marincin and Scott Harrington, who can go to the minors without having to clear waivers.

Petter Granberg, another defenseman, is currently on IR.

In a corresponding move to the Corrado claim, the Leafs put forward Richard Panik on waivers. Panik, who Toronto plucked off waivers from Tampa Bay last year, appeared in 76 games for the Leafs, scoring 11 goals and 17 points.