Steve Stamkos rumors heat up prior to draft, free agency

What team wouldn’t want a player who is one year removed from scoring 50 goals on their team? And what would a team be willing to sacrifice to obtain that player?

Questions are abound concerning the future of Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos, a restricted free agent come July 1 if Tampa Bay can’t lock up the gifted goal scorer before then to a contract extension. And rumors circulating on the internet indicate that Tampa Bay might not be able to.

Some reports indicate that Stamkos and the Lightning are not close to reaching a deal, and as the days move closer to the draft and free agency, the likelihood that Tampa Bay trades his rights becomes higher. If Stamkos does make it to July 1 without signing a contract extension, it’s nearly 100 percent certain that someone will deliver an offer sheet for Stamkos. At that point the Lightning could choose to match the offer sheet or they could choose to let Stamkos get away in exchange for a compensation package of draft picks.

After reaching the Conference Finals this season, Tampa Bay probably doesn’t want draft picks in exchange for Stamkos. With aging veterans like Martin St. Louis on their roster, the Lightning have the tools and the desire to win now, not after years of rebuilding with potential draft picks. The alternative for Tampa Bay involves trading away the rights to Stamkos in exchange for roster players ready to contribute immediately. This actually seems like a legitimate scenario, and here’s why.

Consider who the general manager of Tampa Bay is and the model he is used to seeing on the ice. Teams like the Detroit Red Wings, Vancouver Canucks and San Jose Sharks have been very successful in recent years building teams around depth and defense rather than one or two superstars, like the Capitals or Rangers. General manager Steve Yzerman may choose to trade away Stamkos in order to solidify the depth on his roster.

Yzerman may have another move up his sleeve as well. Free agent forward Brad Richards has supposedly expressed interest in returning to Tampa Bay where he won a Stanley Cup in 2003. Could Yzerman attempt to trade away Stamkos in exchange for second-and-third line depth players and then sign Richards to a deal? Hockey Gods help the East if Yzerman can swing an incredible move like that.  

Teams supposedly interested in Stamkos include the Islanders, Rangers, Red Wings and, of course, the Maple Leafs. As a Canadian, Stamkos may relish the opportunity to play for a Canadian team like the Leafs. The Islanders have the cap space and a lot of young talent, but would Stamkos be willing to sign with a team seemingly so far away from winning a championship? The Rangers likely do not have enough cap space to absorb Stamkos while the Red Wings are probably the least likely team to extend an offer sheet to anyone, although they might be able to work up a juicy trade package, but cap space would still be a huge concern.

Heed any rumors regarding Stamkos with a grain of salt. As arguable Tampa Bay’s greatest offensive weapon, the team will do everything in their power to re-sign Stamkos to a long term deal and alot can happen over the next few days. If a contract appears unlikely, however, Yzerman may opt to explore other options and get the maximum in return. Expect trade talks to heat up the closer we get to the draft this Friday.

One comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *