You may be shocked to find that I am obsessing a bit on this Brad Richards free agent thing. It is the one move that really makes our team better. And its only one move, but it doesn't cripple us. It will be a lot of money, and a lot of term, but there should be reasonable return on investment. Some creative contract structuring, and if can be very good for us.
Look, I'm no dummy. I recognize that we need to upgrade our defense. If we want to upgrade our defense to the point we can just sit there and say, 'hey, we got a darn good chance of making the playoffs', we need to sign both Kevin Bieksa AND Christian Ehrhoff. The thing is that both of those players COMBINED scored 72 points in the regular season. Both are top tier defensive free agents this year, and the competition for signing them is Detroit. Brad Richards should be good for about 73 points. He is only one guy, and the competition for signing him is going to be Toronto, where he has already said he doesn't really want to go (See Ver. 2.1). To substantiate this, check out this Larry Brooks article over on Kuklas Korner, kindly forwarded by someone on the Dark Blue Jacket's twitter feed.
In short, the CBJ have as good a chance as anyone to sign Richards. We are not nearly as competitive for the top, offensive defensemen.
So I think Howson should trade the second round pick to Dallas for the rights to negotiate with Richards, and get this deal done before the draft. Then you can decide if you want to use the pick to draft another D-man or to move it to get a D-man.
With Brad Richards in the pivot, and Nash on the wing, you can look at our team and say with a reasonably straight face 'we got a chance to make the playoffs'. Do we have remaining issues? Sure do. So do a lot of other teams. But we make ourselves a better team.
Guaranteed that Richards gets hurt some, and misses some time. Its gonna happen. But when he's in there, it will be worth the money. And we want RyJo learning from Richards.
Get this done. Make our team better Howson!