February 26, 2008
The Dallas Stars made a big strike, landing 27-year-old Brad Richards, who they can put in the middle of a scoring line. The Stars were undersized at the center position and probably were not going to match-up well in the tough Western Conference playoff picture with Mike Ribeiro for instance going up against a Ryan Getzlaf or Joe Thornton.
Richards has been incredibly durable, appearing in 552 of a possible 554 career games. He may not be having a great offensive season, but he logs 24 minutes a night and a breath of fresh air may be what he needs. The key for the Lightning was getting out from under the $7.8 million owed to Richards each of the next three seasons after signing defenseman Dan Boyle long-term Monday night.
In addition, Tampa Bay was looking to upgrade its goaltending situation. Mike Smith is big (6-foot-3, 211 pounds), young (25) and promising (12-9, 2.46 goals-against average and .906 save percentage). In addition, the Stars did not have to part with any of their young defense prospects, including 21-year-old Mark Fistric.
Jussi Jokinen, known as much for his shootout prowess as anything, has offensive upside and Jeff Halpern returns to the East where he established himself as an efficient shutdown checking center in Washington. The Stars will plug Johan Holmqvist in as their back-up to Marty Turco.