Yzerman's Biggest Deal
After watching the Tampa Bay Lightning's demolition of the Atlanta Thrashers 7-1 last night, I began think about the task set ahead for the rebuilding/rebuilt franchise. Steven Stamkos scored his league leading 38th goal of the year last night (albeit off his chest), and with Stammer heading into the offseason as a restricted free agent, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman has a very huge task ahead of him: retaining Stamkos for years to come.
Stamkos is making $875K this season in the last year of his entry level deal, but his cap hit is $3.725 million because of bonuses. Last year's Maurice Rocket Richard Trophy winner has a choice to make and is seemingly a pretty easy one: A.) sign with Tampa Bay long term for a huge chunk of money or B.) sign an offer sheet long term for a huge chunk of money and have Tampa Bay match the offer.
There is no way Stamkos will be wearing another uniform for a long time. Consider Yzerman's pending free agent situations: Simon Gagne (making $5.25 million), Teddy Purcell and Nate Thompson are the next players after Stamkos in the pecking order for Jeff Vinnik's dough. Both Purcell and Thompson are due for a raise, and as RFA's will most likely get them. Gagne could be back at a lower price considering the tough luck he's having this year with injuries and scoring. Finally, it looks as if Mike Smith's $2.2 million salary will be gone next year with Dwayne Roloson taking over and splitting time with Dan Ellis. Roloson will probably re-sign for around a million and a half, leaving enough room to sign Stamkos to a monster deal.
Apparently Leafs fans think they can sign Stamkos to an offer sheet this summer, but are missing a couple things: draft picks and wins. Stamkos knows that the Bolts are within striking distance of a Cup with the core that they have, so why take an offer from Toronto, when Yzerman will definitely match anything offered to him, and risk being the fan favourite in Tampa. Yes, Stamkos is from Toronto, but so are a lot of stars in the league. You don't see everyone queing up to play in Toronto to win a Cup , do you? But enough with the Leafs, the Bolts seriously need to get talks going with Stammer if they haven't already. They might have to offer him around $8 million to stay (comparing Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby), but that's the price you pay for a superstar. A price Yzerman has to take to keep his franchise intact.