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Photo Credit: Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images - Richie Rich?

July 1st is finally here and regardless of a limited pool of exciting free agents, expectations in Leafs Nation are once again sky high. The big fish is obviously Brad Richards, a 31 year old skilled passing center, out of Murray Harbour, P.E.I., Canada.

Obviously, the biggest and most discussed need the Leafs have is at that top line center position and that’s exactly where the majority of fans and pundits keep putting Richards. His offensive acumen, imagination and playmaking ability would surely benefit Phil Kessel and his leadership already helped the development of players like Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson.

Brad Richards tallied 90+ points twice in the NHL (91 both times) and crossed the 70 point plateau four more times. He was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy for his efforts during the 2003-04 Tampa Bay Stanley Cup run and was selected for the All Star game in 2010-11. Such a player would certainly help the Leafs gain instant playoff credibility around the league but would undoubtedly come with a long term price tag.


Photo Credit: Getty Images

By now we’ve all jostled with the idea of the Leafs landing Brad Richards in some way or other. These things tend to happen when it’s basically been talked about for over a year prior to his upcoming free agency period.

Much like Rick Nash in the past, Leafs fans have plotted their potential line combinations with Richards’ name embedded on the top unit for some time now.

For me, the Richards idea sort of fell by the wayside a while ago as I came to grips with the fact that he’d likely become a Ranger in the off-season. Returning to the free agency list, a few people began to throw around Brooks Laich’s name – which, I think, is a great thing. But the Richards situation has sort of resurfaced for me over the past week or so, and I think I’ve had a change of heart (or hope).