Personally I have never been one to believe in the idea that an NHL player would turn down big money to play in their home town. There are players that would like to play in their home towns don’t get me wrong, but money is always going to be the key.
Ryan Suter and Zach Parise being prime examples. Both decided to go home and play in Minnesota for the Wild, but not for a small amount of money. Both players signed for identical 13 year $98 million dollar deals.
I won’t get into the David Clarkson contract because it’s all to recent still. But again big money for a home town boy.
Just to be clear these players would get big money anywhere, but home town teams and big names turns things silly.
From the moment I heard Mike Babcock say “…. the Leafs are Canada’s team” and that Ontario boys would love to come here to play, my opinions changed completely. Mike Babcock is not a person that talks for the sake of talking. He is calculated with words and he his thoughts are to the point and honest. Whether his opinion is true or not is not important. What is important is that he truly believes that if the culture of the Leafs is fixed and the organization is brought back to respectability, the Ontario boys will come home to play hockey. Who better to say this than the coach of team Canada?
Which brings us to Steven Stamkos.
Since July 1, 2015 anyone and everyone has written or talked about his contract situation. Steve Yzerman stated very clearly last season that his number one priority in life was getting Steven Stamkos signed. Yzerman was honest and based on reports Yzerman has tried to get the impending free agent signed. But much time has gone by and the coach has received an extension, a coach that uses Stamkos as a winger and has reduced his ice time, and the Tampa Bay Lightning are starting to deteriorate in terms of wins and loses. Last season was a great one for the Lightning and they looked like legitimate contenders, but looks can be deceiving and Stamkos is starting to see the warts. The Drouin situation doesn’t help anything either. Yzerman is very strong willed and sticks to his guns and Jonathan Drouin is learning the hard way. So if Yzerman believes Stamkos can be allocated $8.5 million on average in terms of the Lightnings cap, then Stamkos is not getting Joanthan Teows and Patrick Kane money.
I guess what I am trying to say is that the team has stated thats it’s priority is to get the super star signed and they have tried, but Steven Stamkos is the one holding out.
YES Steven Stamkos is deliberately not signing an extension.
Why you may ask? MONEY!
There are only a hand full of teams in the NHL that can pay Stamkos what he wants and can fit him into their cap.
For sake of argument let’s say the NHLPA uses the 5% escalator and the cap does go up to $74 million. Just for the record I don’t think they will, the cap stays at $71.4 million.
On TSN Craig Button listed the teams that are interested in Steven Stamkos and the odds of those teams landing him.
Let’s do the simple math shall we?
Tampa Bay Lightning (As of July 1st, 2016)
Cap space: $22,658,334 (as per capfriendly)
RFA’s: Alex Killorn, JT Brown, Vladislav Namestnikov, Nikita Kucherov, Cedric Paquette, Nikita Nesterov
UFA’s: Steven Stamkos, Mike Blunden, Jonathan Marchessault,
If the cap goes up to $74 million then the Lightnings cap space becomes $25,258,334.
Assuming Yzerman stands pat and Stamkos negotiates a contract with an AAV of $9 million, that leaves Tampa Bay with $16,258,334 in space to sign 6 RFA’s and 2 UFA’s. If Tampa Bay ends up working a cap miracle and Yzerman is able to fit everyone under the cap, don’t forget that guys like Tyler Johnson, Victor Hedman, and Ben Bishop need log term big money contracts the following summer. Very tough situation.
My verdict: Even with a discount the Lightning will have to move out significant money to keep the core intact. On the low end Johnson, Hedman, and Bishop will need $15 million of cap space to lock up long term. That number is almost all they have to spend this off-season. The math just doesn’t work out for the Lightning.
Buffalo Sabres (As of July 1st, 2016)
Cap space: $27,121,309 (as per capfriendly)
RFA’s: No one worth mentioning, all are expendable
UFA’s: No one worth mentioning, all are expendable
Buffalo Sabres can afford Stamkos. They can fit him under the cap long term. They do have a lot of big long term contracts already that will end up being onerous long term. I don’t see him going to Buffalo. The Sabres were a joke last season and with all they have added, they are still in the same position as last year much like the Oilers.
My verdict: The Buffalo Sabres do not have a rebuild that you can believe in. The Sabres management gave out horrible contracts that needed buying out, and now they are repeating their mistakes. Sabres bought out the contracts of Cody Hodgeson, Ville Leino, and Christian Ehrhoff and then almost immediately spent on O’Reilly, Bogosian, Franson. True rebuilding team gets rid of salaries to free up cap space for when high end drafted talent become stars and need raises. Not a well run organization. I don’t see Stamkos taking his talents to Buffalo.
Cap space: $9,674,167 (as per capfriendly)
RFA’s: No one worth mentioning, all are expendable
UFA’s: No one worth mentioning, all are expendable
With only $9 million and change in cap space you can see how quickly the Montreal Canadiens get eliminated from the Steven Stamkos discussion. The following off-season sees Alex Galchenyuk and Jacob De la Rose become Restricted Free Agents and in need of new contracts.
My verdict: Montreal Canadiens would have to shed $11 million in cap space to be able to get into the Stamkos conversation, so I have officially put Montreal in the “Zero Chance” category.
Detroit Red Wings (As of July 1st, 2016)
Cap space: $16,298,789 (as per capfriendly)
RFA’s: Petr Mrazek, Jared Coreau, Alexey Marchenko, Danny DeKeyser, Teemu Pulkkinen, Riley Sheahan
UFA’s: Brad, Richards, Darren Helm, Kyle Quincey, Drew Miller
With all the key players needing new contracts come July 1st, 2016 I don’t see how they can allocate $9+ million of their cap to Steven Stamkos. Long term it just doesn’t fit.
Toronto Maple Leafs:
Cap space: $18,553,333 (as per capfriendly)
RFA’s: Nazem Kadri, Morgan Reilly, Martin Marincin, Connor Carrick, Frank Corrado, Peter Holland
UFA’s: Michael Grabner, PA Parenteau, Ben Smith, Brad Boyes, Raffi Torres, Alex Stalock, Mark Arcobello
The NHL Draft Lottery results will impact what the Leafs end up doing this summer than organization is letting on. Guaranteed the Toronto Maple Leafs will be drafting in the top 3 this year. Don’t believe the hype about them drafting 4th overall.
Leafs get Matthews and end up trading the rights to RFA Nazem Kadri. Maybe even end up trading Bozak. Winning the lottery and maybe signing Stamkos make both Kadri and Bozak expendable with the likes of Nylander, Marner, Hyman, and Brown in the organization.
Leafs get 2nd or 3rd overall pick and a winger and not a center in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. Still Kadri’s rights are traded and Bozak is kept which is under contract and will end up costing $1 million less in cap terms.
I don’t see any of the names on the UFA list coming back except for maybe Ben Smith, which would cost the Maple Leafs maybe $850,000.
Reilly will be signed long term, I believe in the $4,500,000 range, which would leave the Leafs with $14 million to sign Stamkos and the players like Martin Marincin, Connor Carrick, Frank Corrado, and Peter Holland. All cheap players.
Don’t forget the Leafs have 3 impending UFA’s Milan Michalek, Colin Greening, and Brooks Laich coming off the books who will more than likely be traded and the NHL Trade Deadline the following season if not just not re-signed at seasons end. Those three players open up $11,150,100 in cap space. That sum right there is where Stamkos cap hit comes from. It’s not a coincidence. Maple leafs management was very deliberate in their plans this season.
Not to mention that sweet Lou has made players disappear to the Long Term Injured Reserve (LTIR) list, a benefit of which the Leafs could use their cap hit’s if and when the Leafs end up reaching or surpassing the cap ceiling. Nathan Horton’s $5,300,000 cap hit is the insurance to the plan.
Once the Leafs spend the cap opened up by the exit of Milan Michalek, Colin Greening, and Brooks Laich ($11,150,100) on Steven Stamkos and happen to want to add another UFA….um, let’s say John Tavares in 2018….and players like Lupul come back to play full time then Nathan Horton’s $5,300,000 cap hit on LTIR accounts for that.
Based on what all the experts or insiders are saying it’s really a two horse race at the moment for Steven Stamkos. He will either stay in Tampa Bay or go home to Toronto.
One team is starting to content and one team is starting a rebuild. Sabres are rebuilding, Canadiens are a mess, Detroit can contend, Vancouver is going to rebuild, Edmonton is rebuilding and is a mess, the New York Rangers have cap space and tons of players to sign.
The key for Leafs right now is non of their RFA’s and UFA’s other than Reilly and maybe Nazem Kadri are worth keeping around. Mostly the Maple Leafs will sign the RFA’s to cheap deals to fill out the roster. Other teams have UFA’s and RFA’s that are core pieces and not expendable like the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Like I said a true rebuild sheds salary and resets the cap for the young talent coming up. Leafs after the 2016-2017 season will have $56,152,500 (without Stamkos) and that is if the cap stays at $71.4 million.
Simple math has Steven Stamkos coming home and 80% of the NHL just does not have the cap space to allocate $10 million to one player without having to move out significant dollars.
I’m not happy or sad about this. I’m still on the fence about Stamkos coming to Toronto. I’ve said all along that he is coming though. Just I like said Babcock was coming here too and no one believed me.
It’s all about the challenge. The lure of winning in Toronto. It’s the siren song that drives men mad. Just look at who the organization has added in the last year. Brendan Shanahan, Lou Lamoriello, Kyle Dubas, Mark Hunter, Reid Mitchell, Mike Babcock, Jim Hiller, D.J. Smith, Andrew Brewer, Steve Briere, Jacques Lemaire, and the list goes on.
Next on the list are the Ontario boys.