Don’t Kid Yourself, Stamkos Won’t Leave Tampa
With Brad Richards happily house hunting in New York, and the majority of the other more interesting UFAs signed, the thought of another three months without hockey has made some folk delusional it seems.
Steven Stamkos will NOT be leaving Tampa Bay!
Can we please stop this now?
I can certainly accept the idea someone may make a move for Drew Doughty, one the Kings might not be able to match. There’s a few other RFAs, and even UFAs, who may find themselves in the middle of a tug-of-war between two teams as things progress and ‘holes’ in rosters are identified.
But there is no way on Earth Stamkos is not in a Lightning shirt next season.
Whilst different people report different ‘facts’ as to how close Stamkos and the Bolts are to signing a deal, there is no way Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman will allow a young man yet to truly reach his prime, but already a 50 goal scorer, to leave FLA.
The issue is not so much one of cap space per say – the Bolts have around $15 million of cap space and already have 20 players signed, so even getting Stamkos signed with a hit of $10 million+ is not a serious issue in cap terms. The problem is more the real world balance sheet of the franchise and where it’s bottom line hovers – in the black, or in the red….
Thing is, even if another club comes in with a large offer sheet you can expect Tampa to match it.
Stamkos is arguable the third biggest name in the NHL now, after Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin. He is certainly among the top handful if nothing else and is therefore one of the most marketable players in the whole league (see his role as EA Sports NHL12 cover star).
He’s also the face of the franchise in Tampa and the club has already started to use his ever growing reputation to sell tickets (see the ‘Seen Stamkos?’ campaign).
So a 50-goal scorer, the face of the franchise (perhaps even a future captain), one of the most marketable players in the game and people really think Tampa will let him go? C’mon!