It’s no surprise a media market as active in the hockey world as Vancouver is intrigued about Steven Stamkos just as much as teams like Toronto and Montreal.
But there isn’t much about the Vancouver Canucks that would intrigue the Lightning captain to sign with the team right now. Perhaps in a couple years if the “rebuild-on-the-fly” comes together as planned, but Stamkos is a pending UFA now, and he may not ever be in a similar contract situation again after this season.
If Stamkos were to leave Tampa Bay, the Lightning certainly aren’t going to let him simply “walk” on July 1st, and lose the face of their franchise for absolutely nothing. Even a sign-and-trade, which is more commonly seen in other major sports, is something that Stamkos would want to happen, should he not stay with the Lightning. It’s no secret that Stamkos is exploring his options, but he’s a true professional and has only ever known Tampa Bay in his career. The organization has helped groom and guide him into a superstar in the league, and built their success in recent years with Stamkos as the focal point. The 26 year-old isn’t going to just walk away from all of that, even when the matter here is business.
And let’s be clear, Stamkos isn’t concerned about which team is prepared to offer him the most money. He’ll certainly be due for a raise after this season, but that may not be as drastic as some may think. Stamkos’ agent, Don Meehan, responded to the Tampa Bay Times in regards to the reported offer from Tampa Bay which includes an $8.5 million annual average:
“I think from Steven’s point of view, he’s not the kind of individual that would be saying to us, ‘I have a priority consideration and it’s only money’… That wouldn’t be Steven Stamkos at all.” – Don Meehan, Stamkos’ agent.
So assuming that the Canucks would need to trade to acquire Stamkos, who would they have to let go of? The only way Vancouver could remotely counter in value would be to trade away multiple players, probably aged 21 or younger. And in that case, what would they have to lure in Stamkos, a team in shambles for the foreseeable future? Stamkos has a full no-movement clause in his contract, meaning he could say no to the Lightning if they were to try and trade him to a team in dismay.
It’s simply not going to happen.
Canucks Need to Stay Committed To Rebuilding
In recent seasons, the Canucks have done a successful job with loading up their pool of prospects. Players like Bo Horvat, Sven Baertschi, Jake Virtanen, Jared McCann, Bo Horvat and Jacob Markstrom have all made their way into the Canucks lineup over the past two seasons. Others like Hunter Shinkaruk, Brendan Gaunce, Nikita Tryamkin, Thatcher Demko and Brock Boeser will all find their way into Vancouver’s lineup in coming seasons.
Trading for Stamkos would mean the Canucks having to flip at least two of these players to the Lightning, if not more. An even more appealing asset for Tampa Bay would have to be Vancouver’s first round draft pick this year; the Canucks could very well end up picking in the top-five at the NHL Entry Draft this June at their rate of regression (but don’t tell ownership they aren’t a playoff team).
The bottom line is that you can’t buy talent without selling potential. And even if this trade did go through, would Stamkos really want to join a rebuilding roster?
Leafs 5 #Canucks 2: Why would Steve Stamkos want to join either of these teams? https://t.co/3eWFwo3ADP pic.twitter.com/lOJuhMf3NQ
— Province Sports (@provincesports) February 14, 2016
Stamkos has endured brutal losing seasons and lots of uncertainty in the Lightning’s personnel in his years. He only continued to shine on the ice, growing into one of the league’s premier snipers.
Led by Stamkos, the Lightning have now entered a window of winning, highlighted by their Stanley Cup Finals run last season. It should still be open for years to come, which makes you think that Stamkos would want to be part of it.
Justified Intrigue About Stamkos in Vancouver
As unlikely as it is that Stamkos ends up in a Canucks jersey, you can’t blame Vancouver fans for hoping for it.
In a season where there has been little to cheer for in Vancouver, the idea of acquiring Stamkos is an optimistic one; which also explains the obsession in Toronto that runs as far back as last summer. It’s understandable – the discussion is, after all, on acquiring a former first overall pick, a four time all-star and a two time Rocket Richard Trophy winner, with pure sniper abilities that can’t be taught.
The Canucks could move young players or draft picks that pose to be very valuable to the team down the road, but the quantity of what they would need to give up is truly too steep. Even if Stamkos’ main concern is where he plays and not what he’s being paid, imagine the Canucks trying to take on his salary, and ideally the likes of Horvat, McCann, and Virtanen in coming years. Not that they would ever be able to retain all those assets and still acquire Stamkos.
Trading for him isn’t logistical, signing him as a free agent is unrealistic.
Sorry, Canucks fans, but don’t get your hopes up.