SOMETHING BIG? With such an unusually large salary cap number to play with, after the NHL officially set next year’s number at $63.4 million, one had to think that the Flyers might not be finished in trying to acquire a big name player.
The first guess, for some, was Brad Richards, who has repeatedly turned down requests from Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk to waive his no-movement clause before July 1 so Dallas can move his negotiating rights while they still have value.
Richards, 31, isn’t likely coming to Philly. One of the reasons Holmgren said he wanted to make Thursday’s moves was to clear out their glutton of centers.
Holmgren might be willing to make an exception for Steven Stamkos.
From what I’m told by sources, that isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds. Upon hearing so on Thursday, the logical side of my brain instantly wrote off the possibility. The more people I talk to, the more it seems like it could be a possibility.
Stamkos, still just 21, is easily one of the NHL’s three best players already. He has a league-best 96 goals in the last two seasons. He was named a finalist for the Ted Lindsay Award as league MVP as voted by the players.
Stamkos is believed to be looking at something in the $7 million per season range, which sounds awful low.
Stamkos said in an interview on Wednesday in Las Vegas that he believed his negotiations with the Lightning on an extension were “close.” Still, one has to wonder why the two sides haven’t been able to come together. Tampa Bay’s season has been over for nearly a month and he should have been the team’s top priority.
Personally, I don’t see a way that the Flyers - or any team - would acquire his rights via a trade, unless the Stamkos camp flat out tells the Lightning that they have no interest in re-signing or that the numbers just won’t work.
A much stronger option, though, is for someone to try to sign Stamkos to an offer sheet.
Lightning GM Steve Yzerman said on Wednesday that the team is “prepared for anything.”
It has long been reported that the Maple Leafs - and it should be noted that Toronto is Stamkos’ hometown team - under general manager Brian Burke would be willing to put in an offer sheet for Stamkos if the opportunity presented itself. It has been reported that Burke could offer as much as $9 million per season for Stamkos.
First, that cannot happen until July 1, when Stamkos officially becomes a restricted free agent. Second, the Lightning can choose to match any offer sheet or walk away and accept the compensation.
The compensation would be 4 first round draft picks, one pick per year for four years.
While the Lightning have plenty of cap room to match any offer, another source familiar with Tampa Bay’s operation said Tampa Bay may not have the financial capability of matching an offer because of their commitment to captain Vinny Lecavalier, who is contracted to collect $10 million per season for each of the next 5 years.
Throw in the small market team’s long-term deals on the table with Marty St. Louis and Ryan Malone, their limited gate success and unwillingness to spend to the salary cap limit and the discussion becomes all that more interesting.
That’s where the Flyers may come into play. By trading Mike Richards and Jeff Carter on Thursday, they also dealt exactly $108.9 million dollars worth of long-term commitments off their books. That’s a big number. Ed Snider could surely be convinced to spend a good portion of that on Stamkos if the opportunity were to present itself.
Here’s one thing I can guarantee you: Stamkos’ name has come up in the Flyers’ organizational plans. This rumor, for sure, has legs. This is something to keep an eye on.