It’s not looking so hot for Brad Richards to re-sign in Dallas

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Dallas’ long summer ahead without the playoffs and now without a coach after firing Marc Crawford has one more major problem lying ahead in the form of Brad Richards.

Richards is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and while he’s enjoyed his time in Dallas, the lack of stability with the team’s ownership situation as Tom Hicks continues to look for a viable buyer for the team is causing Richards to think long and hard about whether or not he wants to stay in Texas.

Richards, should he become a free agent, will be the top free agent available this summer and with teams like the Rangers, Maple Leafs, and Kings all likely to be in the mix to go after him the Stars might want to figure out a way around things fast. As for Richards, he told ESPN Dallas’ Mark Stepneski today that he’s got a lot of thinking to do over the summer when deciding on his future.

“There’s been a little chatter, but it’s always come back to if I am going to sign and there’s no ownership, I am still kind of hesitant,” said Richards, who made $7.8 million this past season. “And there may not be ownership by the time I have to make a decision.

“Right now, there’s no rush. There’s nothing that’s pressing me. I am going to try to see what happens. If there is no change, it doesn’t mean I am leaving. I’ll have to make a different type of decision at that time. Right now it doesn’t look like it’s going to be in place but, like I said, there’s no deadline right now, so I can sit back. I am sure I will talk with Joe here in the next day or two and get a better idea. Then we’ll wait and see.”

If you’re a Stars fan those are very ominous words from Richards and Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk will come under fire in a big way should Richards leave without any compensation. The Stars had opportunities to deal Richards before the trade deadline but opted not to in order to make a run at the playoffs with him. The Stars missed out on the playoffs on the final day of the season and the second-guessing of Nieuwendyk’s lack of movement is bringing into question his plan.

On the upside, if it looks like a deal can’t be made with Richards to re-sign in Dallas, they can deal his rights away before July 1 in an attempt to salvage something in return for his imminent departure. The downside there is that the return in any deal like that would pale in comparison to what the Stars could’ve gotten at the trade deadline from Toronto, New York, or anyone else who came calling to get the All Star center.

This summer is setting up to be a dreary situation for the Stars. While Joe Nieuwendyk is well loved by the fans in Dallas, losing Richards while being hamstrung by the lack of new ownership when free agency rolls around will make life miserable for him. Nieuwendyk will have to get creative to try and find more players to surround rising star Jamie Benn and captain Brenden Morrow.

Auston Matthews’ 33rd goal includes a dash of comedy (Video)

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This wouldn’t have been worth a chuckle if not for the correction. (Well, maybe a chuckle at Auston Matthews‘ expense.)

On the 33rd goal of his brilliant rookie season, Auston Matthews made it 2-0 for Toronto on the power play. Crusty “act like you’ve been there” types might grumble that he actually celebrated before a goal really happened, only to tap it in for real the second time around. The rest of us, again, get a mild chuckle.

William Nylander‘s pass was nothing to laugh at, however. That one just gets a big thumbs up.

Hnnngmgghh indeed.

That goal could end up being key as the Blue Jackets quickly scored to start the second period, shrinking Toronto’s lead to 2-1 on Wednesday.

Video: Leafs’ Carrick delivers thunderous hit on Blue Jackets’ Anderson

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Both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Toronto Maple Leafs have motivation to win their Wednesday game, but the Maple Leafs need it more.

So far, it shows, too.

The Maple Leafs have raced off to a 2-0 lead, with Auston Matthews scoring his 33rd goal of the season. If generating such offense didn’t highlight the urgency, Connor Carrick‘s huge hit on Josh Anderson makes a compelling argument. Witness that big impact in the video above.

There was also another high-impact moment when Nick Foligno went crashing into the boards:

Ouch, Blues consider Paul Stastny out week-to-week

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The St. Louis Blues announced that Paul Stastny is out week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

Stastny was limited to less than four minutes of ice time during last night’s 4-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche. Initially, head coach Mike Yeo indicated that the issue wasn’t serious.

There are only about three weeks left in the regular season, so it’s tough to tell if “week-to-week” would mean that the Blues will be without Stastny for any playoff time.

With Stastny out for an expended period of time and other injuries affecting Blues forwards, it sounds like Nail Yakupov gets another chance to prove himself:

Stastny generated 18 goals and 40 points in 66 games so far this season. He has played more of a defensive role this season (46.2 offensive zone start percentage after being closer to 50 earlier in his Blues days) and has been impressive in the dot, winning 53.8 of his faceoffs.

WATCH LIVE: Islanders at Rangers – Wednesday Night Rivalry

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A night after a feisty matcuhup with the Devils, the Rangers host an even bigger rival in the Islanders at Madison Square Garden for Wednesday Night Rivalry on NBCSN.

As nasty as Tuesday’s contest got at times, this one means more.

While the Rangers seem pretty safely seated as the East’s first wild card, the Islanders stand three points behind the Maple Leafs for the final spot in the conference. They’ve seen other bubble teams stumble, so this is their chance to close in on Toronto in what might be a shrinking field of contenders.

Spiting the Islanders might just give the Rangers a little extra life on back-to-back nights … especially since their fans would probably let them have it if they sleepwalk through this one.

It should be a fun, physical and dramatic one on NBCSN. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App.

Click here for the livestream.