It has been coined "Stammergeddon" for a reason. It's not so often that a goal-scoring superstar has so much speculation surrounding him going into the expiring year of his contract. Steven Stamkos, the 25-year-old four-time 40 goal-scorer will be one of the hottest free agent commodities come this summer, should he decide to pull a "Mike Babcock" and look for a new challenge.
Naturally, the Detroit Red Wings have been thrown into the mix of potential destinations for Stamkos. I'll say right now that the knee-jerk reaction for maybe 90% of this fanbase is "sign him, pay him whatever he wants." Not so fast, folks. It's not going to be that easy. Pierre LeBrun went on TSN 690 and weighed in on it all:
What if Ken Holland and Detroit, and the way they’ve properly managed their situation, going into a new rink – Steven Stamkos has played just across the border in Sarnia in the OHL – what if Ken Holland made a big offer? I’m not saying he will. Again, like Bob, I’m just putting this out there as theoretical, not as gossip.
This was transcribed by Chris Nichols. Here's the full post.
Stamkos is going to sign with a team built to win, much like Tampa (Sort of. They aren't very good this year.) That narrows the list of teams down. You have Nashville, and St. Louis. You then have teams like Toronto, who will open up their deep pockets to bring the hometown superstar into town naked on a white horse. Let's be real, though - If Stamkos wants to go to a team that can win now, Toronto isn't going to have that for a few more years. Detroit is still a good team. We have a great mix of veteran stars, and promising youth. Unfortunately, we aren't built on defense like we want to be, which should be the priority (that's for another post.) The biggest concern is what it's going to cost. Stamkos is going to get paid, kids. He's going to get paid a lot.
Let's assume that Stamkos gets a comparable contract to Jonathan Toews. Say, $10.5 million a year until 2024. If players like Kyle Quincey, Darren Helm, Brad Richards, and Drew Miller come off the books, you're looking at around $13.1 million in projected cap space, per CapFriendly. That should bring Stammer to Detroit, but let us not forget that Danny DeKeyser, Riley Sheahan, Alexey Marchenko, Petr Mrazek, and Teemu Pulkkinen who all have contracts expiring. Who do you mortgage to make room? Players like Mrazek and DeKeyser are locked. They will get multi-year extensions. So unless we see a big cap increase, the only way this works is if they mortgage their future.
If the cap grows by the $3.1M amount from early projections, that will give more flexibility, but bonus overages could also seep away space. Either way, it looks like it would require bidding farewell to one or more players we might have second thoughts about dumping to make it work.
If Ken Holland is married to the idea of bringing Stamkos here, he's going to have to make trades happen. I will go right ahead and say the first player on my mind who has value is goaltender Jimmy Howard. Trading Howard to a team who needs a goaltender (Edmonton, Carolina, Calgary, and literally like 10 others) would bring $5,291,667 off the books. Potentially enough to get the majority of our small-name RFAs re-signed. Even moving a contract like Howard's doesn't guarantee enough money to sign Stamkos, should it become a massive bidding war, and he ends up with a cap hit north of $11 million. There's a lot of numbers that would need to be sorted out. It's not a simple process, and I highly doubt Ken Holland sheds assets just to make room for something that isn't even close to being a sure thing.
Before we get all excited, and start the "rosterbating," don't forget Stamkos wears 91. That's the no-no number in this city! Sorry, Stammer.