It has to be time for some recognition in the race for the NHL’s biggest award. All the talk around Brad Richards this season has been about his expiring contract and if the Dallas Stars can resign him before they may be forced to trade him. Sure that is the main focus, but the reason everyone is focusing on if Brad stays or goes is because of his play and what he means to the team. Since coming over to the Stars a couple of seasons ago, Richards time here was rough at first. But last season he showed why the Stars traded for him by leading the Stars top line and top powerplay unit. He put up 24 goals and 67 assists and finished in the top 10 in many stats including assists, PP points, PP assists, and more. He also was one of three finalists for the Lady Byng which goes to the player the exhibits the best sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct in the game and off the ice.
So after a great season last year by the one-time playoff MVP and former Lady Byng winner in 04, the extremely talented center has been the talk of the league this year for rumors. While the Stars have made it clear they want to continue to see Richards in a Dallas sweater for many years, the team’s financial situation with the team up for sale has made the process of trying to resign him hard and the rumors only increase. The Leafs, Rangers, and many more have constant press and bloggers talking about Brad and would love to get their hands on him.
But amongst all of this, Richards is getting little recognition for what he is doing on the ice this season. He continues to lead the Stars growing grew of young and talented forwards in Loui Eriksson, James Neal, and Jamie Benn. The season he is having along with the team captain Brenden Morrow having a bounce back year offensively and physically, are two huge reasons the Stars are in 1st in their division in January. Sure there is some guy named Sidney that will probably win the award, or maybe it will go to Richards former team’s new star in Stamkos. But Richards is flying under the radar offensively in what he is doing this season in having a better year so far. While the points totals are about the same with 45 points in 40 games so far, he has been scoring more goals this season and had the game winner against St. Louis last night as the Stars won 4-2. One thing last year is that the team as a whole did bad defensively most nights. Well he has flipped is -12 +/- from last season into a plus 7 +/- this season. He had two game winners last season, but already has three this season and his PP points are keeping.
The Stars are surprising and winning games this season. What should not be surprising is that Brad has been a big part of that and is only improving upon the great season he had last year. So where is the love? I know Crosby has been amazing again this season and everyone is in love with him, and that Stamkos is emerging to the elite level everyone thought he would already. But while Richards probably not going to win it and shouldn’t unless he completely steps up to another level, he should at least be recognized and be in the talks as maybe the 3rd or 4th contender in the MVP race. If he stays in Dallas or not, it is time to start talking about his play and how valuable he has been to this team and their turn around.