Did the Hockey Gods Finally Just Smile on Burke?
With numerous sources suggesting that an impasse between Steve Yzerman and Steven Stamkos has led to a request from the latter for a trade, the hockey world is all abuzz with the thought of the prolific young superstar donning a different jersey this October. That Yzerman has been at this point unable to appease his franchise player is unfortunate for the folks of Tampa, but could bode well for one of the four franchises the young star has requested a trade to.Those four apparently include Toronto, Calgary, Montreal, and some believe, L.A.
After three bona fide top centres, two named Richards, one named Carter, slipped through Brian Burke's fingers over the last few weeks, with Stamkos' prodding, the Leafs have been positioned front and centre to land the best player the franchise will have ever seen on coloured television. It certainly behooves Burke to make a serious play for the kid, and to spare no expense not named Schenn in the process.
There is no immediately apparent flaw in his game, on or off the ice. He's media-savvy, likeable, extremely marketable, and he's willing to come home to a franchise rumoured to be not exactly on the short list of the league's top talents. Stories abound, ranging from obnoxious media pressure to a coach with interpersonal shortcomings as to why names like Nash and Sedin would avoid the opportunity to be crowned hockey kings in the place where the game is what Burke called a cult and a religion.That Stammer would overlook these apparent evils to embrace the opportunity of restoring his hometown to hockey glory is a big story in itself.
While Tampa appears to have the cap space to offer Stamkos a large, lucrative deal this year, the team has eleven players that will need new deals next season, and many, like Victor Hedman, and the host of free agents that Stevie Y will want to entice, to say nothing of the internal budget he must abide by, available resources for one single player, even a player such as Stamkos, are not as unlimited as they could be elsewhere.
Burke has made it known that 10- year deals for players in their thirties is a circumvention of the C.B.A., and for this reason, he refuses to entertain them. But what about the very rare occurrence when the player in question is in his early twenties? Surely, that changes things, and hopefully enough to cause the Leafs top decision-maker to contemplate the kind of offer Yzerman has been unable to table.
In order for a scenario of this magnitude to work, Burke must be sensitive to the fact that Yzerman will be in less than a generous mood, and will require a king's ransom in return, and, more than likely, the suitor will need to absorb some cap in order to give the Bolt's GM some flex room going forward.
That likely means making room for someone like Ryan Malone on the books. Provided the burly Bolt is agreeable, at least twelve to thirteen million should be made available. With the current cap room available to Burke, he would need to jettison assets to the tune of seven to eight million. The caveat here is that those assets had better be of the kind Yzerman is interested in. Start with Kadri or Colborne. Add Kulemin, Grabovski, maybe MacArthur, and throw in at least one first round pick and a top defense prospect or player. That could be the newly-acquired Cody Franson, or one of Gunnarsson, Jake Gardiner or Jesse Blacker. If Burke is deadly serious about Stamkos defecting to Toronto, a second first rounder could also be required.
Burke was willing to over-pay for Phil Kessel, a skilled sniper, but by no means a cornerstone player. By this logic, he will likely be prepared to do the same and more to land not only a legitimate cornerstone asset for the next twelve years, but a player that makes Kessel an instant 40-goal scorer
in the process. Such a deal would make his work for the Sedins seem almost insignificant by comparison. Toronto instantly becomes a place that key athletes would take seriously, and as sure as Kane, Sid and Getzlaf became cup champs, you can bet Stamkos would one day hoist the toughest trophy in sports at the ACC before a throng of success-starved Leaf fans...
Is it happening? Who knows. But we can dream, right?