The Tampa Bay Lightning have offered Steven Stamkos an 8-year $68 million contract beginning next year. Steven Stamkos has yet to reply. Tensions between Stamkos’ party and the Lightning have been strained for some time as it’s been assumed Stamkos has interest in taking his game elsewhere. The Lightning have been a wildly successful team with Stamkos on the roster but as a Canadian Stamkos has expressed cryptic interest in joining a Canadian club. At first the Toronto Maple Leafs were rumored to be his desired destination but the Vancouver Canucks have recently popped up as a viable destination. The Canucks have over $12 million in expiring contracts this year all on players they probably won’t resign. With that in mind, are the Canucks willing to throw more than $8 million AAV at goal scoring wizard Stamkos? And is Stamkos to Vancouver a realistic move?
— Omar A.R. (@omarcanuck) January 11, 2016
If Benning can work some magic before February 29th at 3pm the Canucks should have boosted their rebuild by shipping outRadim Vrbata ($5 AAV) and possibly Alex Burrows ($4.5 AAV). Not too mention resigning Brandon Prust or Yannick Weber seems like quite the longshot. Benning wants to keep moving in a new direction built on youth through his system. He’ll keep some select veterans around like the twins, Jannik Hansen, Alex Edler and Derek Dorsett but everyone else is more than likely a liquid asset.
Why Stamkos to Vancouver Just Isn’t Right
Steven Stamkos is one heck of a hockey player. He’s got a knack for the net (despite his unseasonably low output this year) and he’s a true competitor. At just 25-years-old the Ontario native has already surpassed the 50-goal mark twice in his career. He’s played in 540 NHL games and has recorded 296 goals. That’s more than 0.5 goals per game which means you can count on Stamkos to score at least every other night. Pretty unbelievable.
And fans in Vancouver are hungry for a fresh corps of players that bring speed and excitement, something Stamkos has surely done on most nights of his young NHL career.
— The Canuck Way (@FSTheCanuckWay) January 20, 2016
So of course it’s without any hesitation that we can say Stamkos is an elite NHL player. But how much do his surrounding players play a role in that success? And Does Vancouver have the right pieces to compliment him?
His current linemates Ondrej Palat and Vladislav Namestnikov are great budding young players but they don’t quite accent Stamkos the way that Martin St. Louis did. There’s been the argument that Stamkos would be the perfect right winger for the Sedins to finish their careers with. What a powerhouse line that would be right?
Not so fast.
Stamkos, much like the twins one-year linemate Vrbata, is a goal scorer. Stamkos makes his living floating in the slot and sneaking to the outside to set up for a booming onetime shot. He rarely battles in front of the net for goals like Alex Burrows and Jannik Hansen do. So sure, on the powerplay having Henrik, Daniel, Hansen and Stamkos along with say Chris Tanev would strike fear in the opponents minds but beyond that Stamkos would be left in no man’s land on Vancouver’s roster.
It wouldn’t be fair to the twins and it wouldn’t be fair to Stamkos who would have to wait until the Sedins retired to find a new set of better suited linemates. It’s possible that Jared McCann could develop into that first line center that Stamkos needs but that could take serious time… like enough time that Stamkos would be nearing his 30’s before McCann really became a viable linemate.
So although it seems like a dynamite move on paper, bringing Stamkos to Vancouver would create some serious friction. The question is whether or not the Canucks brass would be willing to wait out the storm that would ensue.
The Money: Stamkos Would Demand $8.5 Million Or More
Stamkos is currently sitting in his house in the state of Florida pondering whether or not to accept the nearly $70 million on the table in front of him or whether he’s best suited to play in different colors next year. No one can blame him. That’s a lot of money, but most analysts think he could be leaving some significant dough off his earnings if he signs with the Lightning, not to mention it’s kind of a slap in the face that the Lightning offered below what he’s publicly valued at…which is not really a specific number as much as it’s an intrinsic knowledge of his worth.
Should Vancouver feel destined to get Stamkos not only would they need to give Tampa Bay a massive return, most likely including one or two of Bo Horvat, Ben Hutton, Jared McCann and Jake Virtanen, but they would need to be prepared to offer Stamkos significantly better value. Like at least $1 million AAV more than Tampa is offering. That could be troublesome for Vancouver.
The Canucks do have some expiring contracts totalling almost $16 million in cap space, but if they let all those players walk they will need to fill more than just one role in the top-six. The departure of Vrbata would be filled with Stamkos but Bartkowski, Hamhuis and Weber would leave the Canucks with virtually no veteran depth on defense except Tanev and Edler. For a team that’s been outshot in 31 of their 49 games this year, it doesn’t seem smart to sacrifice their defense in lieu of bringing a flashy star name like Stamkos to Vancouver.
Attendance is down in Vancouver but the fans are passionate to say the least. They don’t need to be making PR influenced roster decisions. Benning should follow his own set of guidelines and continue building a solid, sustainable corps.