Remember when we all thought that the Toronto Maple Leafs were the only team to make a pitch to Steven Stamkos? Pierre LeBrun had some early-morning inside information on that topic on Thursday:
Montreal, Toronto, Buffalo and a fourth team got to make pitches in person to Stamkos this week. Detroit not one of them.— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) June 30, 2016
I Detroit would have had its turn but Stamkos began to reel it in and focus on Re signing with Tampa Bay— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) June 30, 2016
Huh. So, the Red Wings never got to make their pitch, whatever it might have been, yet the Montreal Canadiens, and an unnamed team (I would assume it was Boston, or another Canadian team), got to make theirs along with others. Why? Was management not pushing hard enough? Or was the rumor of Detroit being a front-runner for the biggest free agent in the salary cap era nothing but smoke and mirrors?
Obviously Stamkos and his agency were willing to mull over the idea of signing a mega-contract with another team, all four of which I would assume were tabling offers well-north of $10 million per year. Yet the Red Wings didn’t get to make their pitch to Stamkos. We don’t have any information beyond what LeBrun has given us, but it definitely sparks some speculation — Maybe the Red Wings were never a heavy favorite? Or maybe Stamkos and company spoke to a handful of teams and realized that maybe signing the biggest contract in the NHL just wasn’t as appealing as staying with what they knew, in a small market, for a team that was built to win now.
The way I look at it, even if Detroit was a team that was considered to be on the cards for Stamkos to meet with or not (we have no reason to believe otherwise), I imagine he figured that Detroit wouldn’t be able to offer him any more than what four other clubs have. Anyways, what’s done is done. Stamkos is locked up for the rest of his prime as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Red Wings never got an invitation to the ball.