clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The angles and complications on Steven Stamkos' future with the Lightning

Though the silence drives you crazy, so does the chatter that comes from reliable sources.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

I could dismiss this if it were general blogger chatter or rhetoric from certain reporters or beat writers because of how little access they have and how little they actually know about the Tampa Bay Lightning and what is going on in the offices at Amalie Arena as well as their lack of contacts. It's a different kind of story when it's Elliotte Friedman doing the talking. You have to respect Friedman for his quality of work, diligence and the quality of sources through the hockey and NHL circles.

So when Elliotte Friedman invokes Steven Stamkos scuttlebutt, you listen and know the writing isn't wishful-thinking, it's a journalist of a hockey variety doing his job and sharing the results with you.

Through Friedman's report, it's reported that the Lightning has explored angles with Stamkos that includes moving the center and seeing what the market has to offer.

However, approximately two weeks ago, a rumour made the rounds that there were trade talks involving Stamkos before the draft. (His no-move clause kicked-in days later.) The best intel I could gather is that it didn't get close. Some sources indicate teams called Yzerman to ask. Others say the Lightning wanted to check the market in case they eventually had to do something. A few suspected Buffalo, because Sabres GM Tim Murray is unafraid to take bold steps. (Via text, Murray declined to answer and another source claimed it never really went anywhere.) The info is out there, but it's very hard to pin down.

Before we go any further, can I once again (like I said last month) urge you to calm down. This is in the past and drawing conclusions like the Bolts want to move Stamkos is out and out knee-jerk reactionary and not reading the fine print of the article.  Take a breather, I'll wait.

You calm? Are you settled?  Okay, let's go on.

Friedman speaks about the multiple angles - the basis of which was also implied last month when I said it's not that simple to just sign Stammer, some player points weren't even touched -complicating contract extension talks. The key one that actually leaves me scratching my head because of conclusions drawn on my own is Stamkos as a center. Friedman's report suggests the Lightning would rather him play the wing with Valtteri Filppula centering him, as was the case during the NHL playoffs.

Long term, that plan doesn't seem to hold water with cap issues and the log-jam that Friedman speaks of in implying complication. Expectations by this writer are that Filppula is the expendable asset on the roster in part because of the jam at center (where Stamkos, Tyler Johnson, Vladislav Namestnikov and Brian Boyle are already filling the slots, with Filppula and Cedric Paquette also able to play center - not to mention Jonathan Drouin. Drouin's path to the NHL was slowed out of the starting gate by the Bolts sending him back to the Halifax Mooseheads to play a season at center instead of his natural right wing position.

Drouin is more relevant in this because his ascension is due to take place this season unless his destination is unavoidably the Syracuse Crunch and the AHL. With the Bolts already holding on to Nikita Kucherov, J.T. Brown and Ryan Callahan along with signing Erik Condra over the summer, that's four right wings on the roster before Drouin or Stamkos are included. The left side has swing-players in Filppula, Paquette and Condra before Alex Killorn and Ondrej Palat are factored in as well.

It's Filppula's AAV of $5 million against the salary cap, paired with the roster glut, that puts the 31-year-old in an expendable position, not in a position of strength to be the guy who displaces Stamkos at center and complicates extension talks. At least that's the conclusion this writer draws.

Friedman closes his piece with a truth about things by way of the code of silence by all parties:

Stamkos could sign tomorrow and make all of this irrelevant. But Yzerman, with both Tampa and Team Canada, shows no fear of making hard decisions if he feels it's right for his team.

He could be signed tomorrow or later this week, or another roster player could be traded just after this article is published to bring in a capable backup who will stay with the Lightning all season.

Whatever the case, Stammergeddon worry is kicked up a notch with the panic that Friedman's report likely kindles.