2016 NHL Free Agency: It's Stamkos Or Bust For Red Wings

Steven Stamkos is the best player to hit free agency in the salary cap era. Most of the best players sign contract extensions or get traded and extend with their new team.

The exception has been Ryan Suter and Zach Parise who went home to play for the Minnesota Wild or, in the case of Suter, home for his wife.

Stamkos can also go home and play for the Toronto Maple Leafs, but they are coached by Mike Babcock who has been blamed as the reason the Red Wings missed out on the bigger free agent names over the past decade. If playing for Babcock is as bad as we have been made to believe then Stamkos won't and can't go play in Toronto. Going home wouldn't be worth the pain, right?

If he does, it should bring up more questions for the Red Wings. Babcock would have landed the best free agent in the cap era. The Babcock free agent narrative will be gone. The Red Wings narrative will remain.

Now here is the chance for the Red Wings to get an elite scoring forward. The perfect time since the power play has been in shambles. The perfect time since no one has taken control and dominated a game or a playoff series with an elite offensive performance in sometime. The perfect time with a new arena and a fan base on edge from a lack of game changing moves.

Looking ahead, Jamie Benn next summer and John Tavares in 2018 are the next two biggest names up front set to become unrestricted free agents. Dallas general manager Jim Nill has already stated Benn is not leaving Dallas. You can bet the New York Islanders will have a major offer ready next summer to retain Tavares and if he doesn't sign, you know Garth Snow will not be shy about dealing him to a team that will extend him.

With that in mind the Red Wings have no choice but to make Stamkos a Wing. If Ken Holland has to offer 7 years and 84 million, it's what he has to do. Good general managers find a way to make it work. Ideally 7 years and 77 million would be for the best but Holland has to be prepared to go all out. If not now, when?

If it's 84 million, it means that Holland cannot bring back a Drew Miller or the Miller's of the world in the summer of 2017 and beyond. You trim at the edges to get the extra cap space. A small price to pay. You use your younger players more. You get creative in trades in future years. It can be done. There are also plenty of forwards knocking on the door in Grand Rapids ready for a shot.

James Mirtle of the Toronto Globe and Mail expects the Red Wings to sign two free agents. They will both likely be forwards as well. Stamkos and someone sure sounds nice. Maybe Stamkos will sign for the 7 years 70 million; it gives Holland more room to work with and a better team for Stamkos, but you have to go all out for him regardless.

Stamkos makes everyone better: Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar, you name it.

Kyle Okposo is a fine player but he has never scored 30 goals in a season. Stamkos has scored 30 goals at least five times. Do you really want to get in a bidding war that could be around 8 million a season after missing out on Stamkos? That won't feel so good.

Stamkos will change how teams play against you, opening up more space for the other forwards and changing how they matchup against you. Stamkos is a game changer.

Stamkos and Dylan Larkin dominating the NHL together - The Red Wings new one-two-punch. The forwards on Detroit haven't had this type of talent suddenly put into the line up in years. You want Holland to finally make a bold move. Finally change the dynamic of the team. It's time; don't let Stamkos be the biggest one that got away. The Red Wings may never get another opportunity of this magnitude in free agency for years to come.