Why would Dallas do this? They keep Richards and reevaluate at the half way mark. If they're in playoff contention they start working on an extension, if they're not in playoff contention they work on an extension vs shopping him and potential return. If he wants too much money or they get an offer they can't refuse they pull the trigger.
I think the package Richards yields will be close to the Kovalchuk package. Kovalchuk may be the flashier, more dynamic player, but Richards has credentials (cup ring and CS trophy). As a hypothetical, if a team in cup contention needing another center (lets say CHI) I could see them giving up Hjalmarsson and Brouwer plus a 1st rder at the deadline. That would be pretty sick 1-2 punch of Toews/Richards down the middle.
Last 4 years:
Pavelski - 83g-178pts +11 (on one of the leagues top teams)
Kesler - 78g-177pts +11 (ditto) Stajan - 69g-202pts -5 (on one of the worst teams the last 4 years)
Simpley...this is a case of "what have you done lately" Pavelski had a nice playoff run and Kesler had a breakout year but Stajan has proven he is NO notch behind those guys overall at all. If anything he's a better playmaker and more consistant.