Could Brad Richards be a Toronto Maple Leaf sooner, rather than later?

A look through the list of impending unrestricted free agent centres with the attributes GM Brian Burke is looking for puts Richards at the very top.

He's only 31 and not just a proven winner, but a leader and a Conn Smyth Trophy winner. He's big and he can score. In short, he's everything the team has lacked in a No. 1 centre since Mats Sundin left the team in 2009.

And now, he's available, sooner than anticipated.

The Dallas Stars — a team without an owner — announced they would try to trade his rights before July 1 — essentially trying to get something for a player they risk losing for nothing once July 1 rolls around.