Dallas Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk today confirmed that the team is trying to trade the rights to leading scorer Brad Richards, who can become a free agent on July 1.

``We have had talks with Brad throughout the year, and he's not going to sign with us unless we have the ownership situation resolved, and it doesn't look like that's going to happen by the start of free agency,'' Nieuwendyk said.

``So while we could have discussions, it just doesn't make much sense right now. So we would like to see if we could get something for his rights and allow another team to have a chance to sign him, but a lot of that is up to Brad and his agent.''

Richards maintains a full no-trade clause, so he would have to approve a trade even now. And while it might be beneficial to a team like the New York Rangers or Toronto Maple Leafs to get Richards and get an exclusive negotiating window before July 1, it would also be easy to assume that Richards' agent, Pat Morris, would much rather start on July 1 with a clean slate.

If Richards waives his no-trade clause to go to a team and that team gave up a significant asset (say a second-round draft pick), then Richards might feel obligated to sign there. If he waits until July 1 and doesn't waive the no-trade, he has an open auction with more options.