It would be worth it just for the tears of the Eastern Media if Steven Stamkos signs with the Edmonton Oilers.
The centre/right winger for the Tampa Bay Lightning who was
drafted first overall in 2008 stands to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. He is going to be the most coveted free agent in recent
memory, maybe ever.
Over his career Stamkos has 524GP, 287-233-520. He’s easily one of
the NHL’s best goal scorers. The fact that he’s having a down year (32GP,
11-11-22) in which he’s recorded fewer points than RNH and is on pace for the
worst offensive season of his career, since his rookie season, will likely be
overlooked completely this summer.
On July 1st he will be a 26 year old shooter with
60 (!) goal potential hitting the open market for the first time. One would assume that the
Lightning will be doing everything in their power to prevent losing him, but
reports are coming out that the marriage between the two is crumbling. There
are almost daily mentions in the news about a rift between Stamkos and newly
extended head coach Cooper. This stemming from Cooper’s insistence on playing
Stamkos on the wing versus his preferred center.
These kinds of reports are easy to dismiss, except when they
start to come from Hockey’s reigning Heavyweight Champion reporter Bob McKenzie. When he says, “Steven Stamkos won’t be playing for the Tampa Bay
Lightning next year”, the ears perk up.
— theScore (@theScore) December 16, 2015
Naturally, because Stamkos is a good Ontario boy, the media
storm has swirled around the Maple Leafs. Toronto is home for every potential
UFA, it seems, so why not with Stamkos? It fits in the sense that the Leafs can
financially withstand paying Stamkos a max contract at max contract length.
Unfortunately, if Stamkos wants to win anything during his career it doesn’t make
a lot of sense to go to the Leafs or take that max contract (cap concerns).
McKenzie doesn’t buy that the Leafs are the only team in the
conversation and he mentions several who might be good fits for Stamkos in one
way or another. Among those he mentioned, the Edmonton Oilers.
Edmonton? Not sure how the Oilers could shoe-horn Stamkos
money into McDavid/Hall/Draisaitl et al money, to say nothing of what they
would do with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or others, but dare to dream of the
Dare to dream indeed.
Like the venerable McKenzie I also don’t see how the Oilers
could afford to spend 10 million on Stamkos when they need to spend that money
on defense and keep enough left over to pay McDavid when his ELC comes to a
But would Stamkos be a great fit for the Oilers? I’m not
certain he’s what they need, but there’s not a team in the NHL who couldn’t use
someone who can score like Tampa’s pending UFA.
Edmonton has collected a handful of first overall
picks and a few others who are capable of performing at the highest level
offensively. As a UFA the Oilers wouldn’t have to part with any assets and
could conceivably run a top nine of:
Hall Draisaitl Stamkos
Hendricks (?) RNH Eberle
Pouliot McDavid Yakupov
What would it take to do that? Just a desire from Steven
Stamkos to make his next team hilariously overpowered up front.
He might also have to take a discount, not terribly
different than when Kariya signed with the Colorado Avalanche for $1.2 million
dollars. If we’re dreaming about Stamkos choosing the Oilers then I don’t think
it’s absurd to dream about him doing it on the cheap for the short term.
Actually, it’s probably the only way it’s happening when you
consider the obvious need for the team to spend money on the blueline and to
pay players coming off of ELCs. Edmonton needs money for Draisaitl and McDavid
long term, but next year they should have some cash to work with.
Do I think the Oilers will sign Stamkos? No. Do I think they’re even a realistic destination? No.
Still though, as McKenzie says, dare to dream.