All season, there have been talks that Steven Stamkos’ time with the Tampa Bay Lightning is nearing the end. The two-time 50 goal scorer is in the last year of his contract, making $7.5M. Unless re-signed, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
During Thursday night’s game against Philadelphia, TSN’s Bob McKenzie made a comment on live television that had the Sabres Twittersphere getting excited.
He implied that Buffalo, not Toronto, is currently the best option for Steven Stamkos. The 26-year-old is from Canada, but Buffalo wouldn’t be too far away. Here is the full comment:
Stamkos might be the first person whoever chooses to live in Buffalo per Bob McKenzie pic.twitter.com/9uY3Kf3b6b
— Chief (@BarstoolChief) February 12, 2016
Of course, it’s exciting to think about. A player like Stamkos coming to the Sabres would make this city go ballistic. We’ve already seen the kind of excitement that Jack Eichel creates, but an addition such as Stamkos could be even bigger.
If, and that’s a big if, the Sabres were to make a power move and trade for #91, they’d have to give up some quality items in return. Guys such as Ryan O’Reilly and Sam Reinhart could be involved in something like that, and/or Buffalo’s first round draft pick, which could very well be in the top 3.
The Sabres have around $9M in cap space right now, but they’d still have to clear some salary. Matt Moulson’s $5M per year is the first thing that comes to mind. Buffalo would have the money to throw at Stamkos if needed.
Ryan O’Reilly is the highest paid Sabres player, who has a cap hit of $7.5M next season, but keep in mind that in a couple of years Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart will be done with their entry-level contracts, so they’ll get a big increase.
Stamkos coming to Buffalo could happen, but are the Sabres willing to give up something like Ryan O’Reilly, a prospect and a first round pick? Is he worth all of that? Stamkos is only 26 and is still in his prime, but how does that impact the Sabres rebuild?
What the Sabres need on offense are wingers. There is a nice core of Eichel, O’Reilly and Reinhart, but they need some help around them. Acquiring Stamkos wouldn’t help that fact. He would improve the team for sure, but unless someone is willing to move to the wing, there would be an even bigger logjam at center.
If Stamkos wants to test free agency, then the Sabres wouldn’t have to give up any assets, making things a lot easier. But if you’re Tampa Bay and you don’t resign him, you’re definitely going to try and get something in return.
The Sabres don’t go after Stamkos. They hold on to that extra money. They can make a move at the deadline and grab a winger or two. They can hit up the free agent market this summer and grab some decent players.
They can hang on to that first round pick and get another top prospect. Then, they can continue to move forward with a nice group of players. When the time comes that they need to pay Eichel and Reinhart, they’d have more room to do so.
Going after Stamkos may be the wrong move for this team long term. And Buffalo isn’t a Steven Stamkos away from winning a Stanley Cup. The Sabres have things going in the right direction, although it’s not showing in the standings.
It’s an interesting idea, but would Tim Murray go through with it?
Do you want the Sabres to go after Stamkos? How do you think it would impact the rebuild?