Thursday, December 10, 2015

Steven Stamkos Needs A New Home

If you missed all the discussion about Steven Stamkos yesterday, then you probably follow less hockey writers on Twitter than I do. Because I saw the screencap of his Twitter page - his only Like ever was on a story about him going to Toronto - roughly a thousand times yesterday.

The like has since been removed, but the point remains: it's December, and Stammer still hasn't re-upped with the Lightning. They are trying to conserve as much money for the Triplets and Victor Hedman, and it seems like they were hoping for a hometown discount.

Except Steve's hometown is not Tampa Bay. It's Toronto.

Toronto Maple Leafs

The Leafs only have about $6 million in cap space, but they have the following contracts coming off the books after this year:

  • Michael Grabner ($3 million)
  • Shawn Matthias ($2.3 million)
  • Nick Spaling ($2.2 million)
  • P.A. Parenteau ($1.5 million)
  • Marc Acobello ($1.1 million)
  • Brad Boyes ($700k)
  • Roman Polak ($2.75 million)
  • James Reimer ($2.3 million)
Obviously, at least a few of those guys will be re-signed. The most notable are Parenteau (8 goals on the season) and Reimer (because Jonathan Bernier is a tire fire). 

That will leave Toronto with right around $25 million committed to five forwards (Nazem Kadri's new contract plus Joffrey Lupul, James van Reimsdyk, Tyler Bozak, Leo Komarov, and Daniel Winnick). They also have Nathan Horton's $5.3 million on the books until 2020 or until he retires. 

On defense, the Leafs have the mammoth Dion Phaneuf contract ($7 million per year until 2021) and Jake Gardiner's $4 million returning. The rest of the defense will likely be rookies and young players with contracts around $1 million each. The question on defense is Stephane Robidas, who's signed for $3 million this year and next but has not played yet this year. 

That'll put Toronto somewhere in the $10-15 million dollar range under the cap, depending on how foolish they get filling out their bottom six forwards. They will have the ability to sign Stamkos to one of the five largest contracts in the league ($9 million+), and they've already hinted that their corporate partners will shower him with money too. 

This is obviously a very rough draft of their lineup, but couldn't they go with a top six of Lupul, Stamkos, Parenteau, van Reimsdyk, Kadri, Bozak and at least contend in most games? 

That seems like a really good move for Stamkos and for the Leafs if he (1) doesn't sign an extension with Tampa and require Toronto to trade some assets for him and (2) isn't moved at the deadline. He has a No Movement Clause, but I don't fucking know what it says specifically (so stop asking). 

Arizona Coyotes

Let's move from the destination the League would love to the destination the Commissioner would love. Hockey sticking in the southwest, for some reason, seems to be the goal. A huge step toward solidifying that would be getting one of the five most talented scorers in the league (and one of the two most attractive) to that market. It would also make for more a more notable rivalry between the 'Yotes and the incoming Las Vegas team. 

Only the Jets have more cap room than Arizona's $10.8 million, and that's largely driven by the young nature of the Coyotes' team and the exploitative nature of entry-level contracts. Only cornerstone defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (age 24, cap hit of $5.5 million) makes more than $4 million. 

To add to that cap room, the following contracts come off the books after this season: forwards Boyd Gordon ($3 million) Steve Downie ($1.75 million), Viktor Tikhonov ($1 million), Kyle Chipchura (875k), and John Scott ($575k) and defenseman Niklas Grossman ($3 million). 

The goal will be to replace as many of those as possible with young, recently-drafted talent, and it should end up leaving Arizona with around $15 million in cap room. 

Wait that's not that much more than Toronto, did I miss something?

Oh yeah, that's right. They have Shane Doan's $5.3 million (after this year) and Chris Pronger's $4.9 million (after next year) coming off as well. 

They have more than enough money to pay Stamkos, and they could, at some point in the next calendar year, ice a power play unit of Stamkos, Max Domi, Anthony Duclair, Ekman-Larsson, and (pick literally any fifth player to round this out). 

In looking at Arizona's cap situation, they've positioned themselves very well to maintain flexibility moving forward. They haven't committed big money to anybody except the stud OEL and goalie Mike Smith (granted, this is a big $5.66 million deal until 2019). If they determine that Stamkos could mesh with their current young core, it might make sense for them to overpay and offer to make him the highest-paid player in the NHL. 

Philadelphia Flyers

We covered what the commissioner wants, what the league wants and, allegedly, what Stamkos himself wants. Now lets' talk about what I want. It's my five-step plan to Flyers dominance:
  1. Vinny Lecavalier either retires or agrees to mutually terminate his contract in exchange for a million Comcast Spectacor stock options. Andrew MacDonald, in a surprising move, opts out of his contract and accepts a position as an assistant coach for the Phantoms at an exactly identical salary. 
  2. Because other teams need to reach the cap floor and would benefit from a veteran presence, Ron Hextall is able to move RJ Umberger next summer for the final year of his contract. 
  3. Andrew MacDonald continues to be a steady presence for the Flyers at the AHL level, preparing the prospects there for life with the big club. 
  4. Brayden and Luke Schenn both agree to Matt Read-esque contracts worth around $3.5 million per year each. 
  5. Sign Stamkos (currently 25 years old) to a deal that pays him $60 million over 6 years, so it will expire when Giroux's does. He will then be 32 and able to collect his big Toronto/end of career contract after winning multiple Cups as a Flyer. 
That gives us Giroux-Stamkos-Couturier down the middle, with Voracek, Schenn, Simmonds, Read, Bellemare, Vandevelde, Laughton and the prospects (notably Konecny) on the wings. 

I just popped a boner thinking about that top six (G-Jake-Brayden, Stamkos-Simmonds-Konecny), and oh yeah we'd also have one of the best shutdown lines in the league too (Coots-Read-Bellemare).

This is, unquestionably, not happening in real life. But I'm finally getting NHL for Christmas, and I'll let you guys know how many Stanley Cups in a row I win. 

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