The free-agent market opens at noon Friday. Goalies are plentiful, (the Rangers don't need one though), top defensemen will command overly high prices, and the forward depth beyond Brad Richards drops off quickly.

BRAD RICHARDS. The prize. The 31-year-old is the man for teams in need of a No. 1 center and a trigger for the power play. The Rangers would pair him with right wing Marian Gaborik. With the Stars, he scored 52 goals and 116 assists in 152 games in the last two years.

TIM CONNOLLY. The No. 2 center available. When healthy, the 6-1, 190-pound long-time Buffalo Sabre can be a force. But that's not often for the 30-year-old playmaker, who had 65 points in 73 games in 2009-10, and just 42 last year. The Avalanche's Tomas Fleischmann is flying under the radar.

ERIK COLE, SIMON GAGNE. Nowhere near alternatives to Richards, but Cole is a big, fast, hard-nosed left wing who was 26-26-52 with the Hurricanes last year after two injured-plagued seasons. He's a 32-year-old Oswego, N.Y., native who the Flyers and many teams covet. Gagne, 31, another winger, has had two terrific playoff runs with the Flyers and Lightning (14 goals, 10 assists) in the last two seasons.

ANTON BABCHUK. Six-foot-five defenseman was 11-24-35 with Carolina and Calgary last season. He's 27. But the Rangers could wait and see who's still available after the dust settles starting in early July.

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