The Brad Richards watch is really heating up.

Where will the veteran centre wind up? How much salary will he command? How long will he sign for?

In a year when there really aren't many high-end unrestricted free agents, Richards is easily the best player available; a player who could help put a team that is close to being a Stanley Cup contender over the top. The 31-year-old Murray Harbour, PEI, native led the Dallas Stars with 28 goals and 77 points in 72 games last season and has been rumored to be on the way to New York to join the Rangers; possibly to Philadelphia and perhaps even back to Tampa Bay where he helped the Lightning win the Cup in 2003-04.

That said, there is an undeniable risk involved in signing him. Richards suffered a concussion last season and any team signing him to a long-term contract, which he will no doubt command, has to be wary of this.

As one general manager told, "We can insure players' contracts for up to seven years, but it is very expensive. Also, you can't get insurance for anything over seven years or on a body part that has a preconditioned injury. In Richards' case, that would be his head, so it would be a risky signing."

Richards has played 10 years in the NHL and has accumulated 220 goals and 716 points in 772 games. He also has a rich history of being a leader and a great teammate. A crafty player with great vision, Richards won the Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player in the playoffs the year the Lightning won the Cup. He was traded to the Stars in 2006 along with Johan Holmqvist for Jussi Jokinen, Jeff Halpern, Mike Smith and a fourth round draft pick.