Teams looking for luxury items in the 2011 unrestricted free-agent market won't find very much to choose from. Those willing to shop at a less expensive store, however, might find some items to their liking.
With so many teams signing players to long-term contracts, it's becoming harder and harder to find impact unrestricted free agents each summer, and this summer looks no different.
At age 31 and coming off a season where he finished in the top 10 in the League with 49 assists and 77 points, Richards could be in line for a contract similar to the five-year, $39 million deal he signed prior to the 2006-07 season.
A number of teams could be looking to upgrade their depth up the middle and could be targeting Richards, including the Toronto Maple Leafs and the New York Rangers.
While Richards appears to be the most talented offensive player about to hit the open market, there are some other candidates that teams will investigate. That list could include the Lightning's Simon Gagne, the Capitals' Brooks Laich and Jason Arnott, Tomas Fleischmann of the Avalanche, the Coyotes' Radim Vrbata and Scottie Upshall of the Blue Jackets.
If they're looking for more physicality and defensive-zone skill, candidates include the Canadiens' Roman Hamrlik, Eric Brewer of the Lightning, the Devils' Andy Greene and the Red Wings' Ruslan Salei.
The list of available goaltenders includes a few aging veterans in the Lightning's Dwayne Roloson, the Maple Leafs' Jean-Sebastien Giguere and the Panthers' Tomas Vokoun. A few younger options could be the Senators' Pascal Leclaire and the Lightning's Mike Smith.