Every year it seems as if there are a select few free agents that are leaps and mounds above the rest. This year, the far and away best free agent available is Steven Stamkos. The fact that an elite player like Stamkos is a free agent at 26, now that is something that is unseen. The next few days teams will be clawing at the chance to talk to Stammer and convince him to suit up for their club next year. The first question I would ask is what do you really get if you lock Stamkos up with a mega deal? What does he bring to the table?
First off, Stamkos is an offensive dynamo that scores at an unreal rate. You can easily count on him for 40 goals if healthy. His production is above and beyond what an average first liner contributes. Obviously, Steven is not your average player. That is why he will have buckets of cash thrown at him the first chance any team gets. I want to be clear about something, you’re not paying him to help you out defensively. Guys like him and Ovechkin aren’t there to keep the puck out of his own net, Stamkos’ job is to fill the opposing teams net. He can add firepower to any team as he makes others around him better in the offensive zone. When Steven is on the ice more times than not, his team controls the tempo and possession. If your team is the one to land him, I can promise you he is making them a lot better by his lonesome.
So what teams will and should be interested in him?
Tampa Bay Lightning
Why leave a great thing? Its already proven that Tampa is an elite team that has surrounded Stamkos with plenty of talent. He might have to take less than he would get on the free agent market, but if he wants a cup, and one soon he would be wise to stay. Stamkos brings Tampa a consistent level of scoring throughout the roster and they need him more than they may think.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Man has Toronto ever turned a new page in their franchise. The front office is loaded with competent, smart people and have one of the best coaches in the game in place. Toronto has a ton of promising youngsters from Marner, Matthews, Rielly, Nylander, and many more. This could be the piece that fully reboots the rebuild and puts the team on the right path. Toronto doesn’t have a big-time sniper in the fold and why not add one without having to give up anything, even if it comes with a hefty price tag.
With Terry Pegula and co. taking over this mediocre franchise, Tim Murray has the reigns to spend what he needs to make this team a contender. Having said that, they will offer Stammer upwards of 12 million, they must be looked as a real possibility. Adding Stammer would allow Buffalo to roll three legit scoring lines next season. This is what it takes to win a cup nowadays in this copycat league.
Detroit Red Wings
Ken Holland does it again! How he pulled off trading Datsyuk’s contract with no repercussions was a brilliant move, which allows them the opportunity to even go after Stamkos. The feeling that their playoff streak is in jeopardy is a big deal to this team. They take pride in making it to the playoffs every year and should. They need an impact player desperately, to add some scoring to this team in Stamkos would take care of a very apparent need. The roster is aging and crusty, Stamkos can be the spark that allows this team to remain in the playoff hunt.
New York Rangers
It seems like it’s now or never for this squad. The Rangers couldn’t keep up with the speed and playmakers teams like the Capitals and Penguins are equipped with. The defence is falling apart, King Henrik looks to be on the back 9 of his career, and the offence couldn’t get it down at a consistent level. The Rangers would be ecstatic to add Stamkos’ pedigree for being able to put the puck in the net. They need to make some big moves, what would be bigger than the addition of Stamkos?
Other teams that could be making serious offers to Stamkos are Vancouver, Montreal, New York Islanders or Philadelphia.
Personally I believe its in Steven’s best interest to take a little pay cut and stay with Tampa. Do I think that will happen, not a chance. He wants to be paid like the Patrick Kane and Jonathon Toews types because it’s a sign of respect. He believes he’s worth the 11 or 12 million that teams will offer and he would be stupid to not consider taking a deal in that range. On July 1st, I think you will see Steven Stamkos taking his talents to the “6” and becoming the next member of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The contract in my opinion will be 7 years, 77 million dollars, which averages out to 11 million dollars a year. Who knows, in five years this could be the reason Stamkos is wearing that elusive ring that he covets so very much.