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Brad Richards, right, was fourth in Lightning scoring this season with 51 points in 62 games, but had a team-worst minus-25 rating. ((Chris O'Meara/Associated Press))

The Dallas Stars answered Colorado's acquisition of Peter Forsberg, picking up centre Brad Richards from the Tampa Bay Lightning before Tuesday's NHL trade deadline.

Richards, 27, waived his no-trade clause to complete the deal, which also involves goaltender Johan Holmqvist and a 2009 fourth-round draft pick going to Dallas. The Stars lead the Pacific Division with 83 points.

Heading to Tampa Bay is backup goalie Mike Smith, left-winger Jussi Jokinen and veteran centre Jeff Halpern.

The Stars, who lead the Pacific Division with 83 points, will assume Richards's contract, which has three years left at $7.8 million US annually.

"Dallas is a really good organization," Richards, a native of Murray Harbour, P.E.I., told cable sports network TSN. "They have a chance to win [the Stanley Cup] now. They have some great players that I'll be able to play with and learn a lot from."

The most valuable player of the 2004 playoffs, when Tampa Bay won the Stanley Cup, Richards was fourth in Lightning scoring this season with 51 points in 62 games, but has a minus-25 rating.

"Brad is a difference-maker and one of the premier playmakers in the National Hockey League," Stars co-general manager Les Jackson said in a statement. "He is in the prime of his playing career and a proven winner who has elevated his game to the highest levels in the playoffs."

After scoring 91 points in the 2005-06 season, Richards dropped to 70 last season.

"It's been a great spot to play [in Tampa Bay] and I have a lot of great memories, but I'm also very excited," said Richards. "I think I need a new beginning.

"For whatever reason, this [Lightning] organization, I've seen it go from being so good to spiralling. I just don't want to be in another situation like that. I think there's a lot of stability in that [Dallas] organization."

In 552 career NHL regular-season games with the Lightning, Richards had 489 points (150 goals, 339 assists).

It's believed the Vancouver Canucks and Columbus Blue Jackets also submitted trade offers to Lightning general manager Jay Feaster.

Colorado shook things up in the Western Conference Monday afternoon when it signed Forsberg to a free-agent contract, prompting Jackson and Stars co-GM Brett Hull to make a move.

Holmqvist has a 20-16-6 record this season with a 3.01 goals-against average and .890 save percentage.

Smith, now considered Tampa Bay's goalie of the future, is 12-9-0 with a 2.46 GAA and a .906 save percentage.

Jokinen has 28 points (14-14) in 52 games this season, while Halpern has 24 points (10-14) in 64 games.