I want to believe this so bad…so fucking bad! But I just can’t.
Even when there seems to be some sort of part of Stamkos that wants to come and play for his hometown of Toronto, even when it’s looking more and more like there’s some serious friction between Stamkos and the Tampa Lightning organization, even though he liked a tweet suggesting he wants to come home and play for the Leafs.
I can’t believe this will happen simply because it’s the Toronto Maple Leafs. We aren’t allowed nice things.
Yes, I am aware we somehow got both Mike Babcock and Lou Lamoriello (*cough* lots of money, no cap on it *cough cough*) but it is a whole different story when you’re talking players.
You have to take the salary cap into account for example. The Leafs currently only have an estimated $640,000 in cap space. Granted, some of that will likely be off the books next season, Grabner’s $3M, Mathias at $2.3M, Spaling at $2.2M, Polak at $2.75M and who knows what’ll happen in trades over the season. But there’s also a few things that can keep the cap space low. Kadri’s contract is up at the end of the season, he’s an RFA and made $4.1M this season, could he be due for a slightly higher deal? If the Leafs are to have two goalies, they’ll have to at least sign either James Reimer or Garret Sparks and if it’s Reimer, he’ll easily make above $3M next year and Sparks will probably see around $1.5M to $2M. Most importantly, we have to remember Nathan Horton’s contract which is a $5.3M cap hit for another 4 seasons after this and he’s never playing on the team. To find the $9-10M a season to sign that he will most certainly get, finding cap space for him will be extremely difficult, no matter how you look at it.
Regardless of whether Stamkos wants to play in his hometown or not, you still have to look at the circus that is the Toronto media. It doesn’t matter who you are, you’re under the largest of microscopes in Toronto, especially when the jersey you wear is that of the Maple Leafs. When playing on a team that isn’t nearly as crazy media-wise as Tampa Bay, would you want to leave that for a market of this magnitude? Especially when you could have other options besides Toronto in free agency that don’t off the media fuckery that Toronto has. Teams with lots of cap space right now include Winnipeg, Arizona, Nashville, Colorado, New Jersey and more. So there’s lots of options.
Would it be a good idea for the Leafs to go out of their way to sign Stamkos, even if it means having a semi-depleted lineup next season? OF COURSE, ARE YOU DUMB?! Stamkos is a generational player, one that could certainly prop the Leafs up, even with a younger lineup and maybe even get the Leafs back into the playoffs the next few years. The Leafs have no #1 center, I don’t care how good Tyler Bozak is playing, you cannot compete with any playoff-bound teams with him as your #1 center. And realistically, would we not expect another year or two of playoff-less hockey if we get to see #91 every game? I think we’d accept that.
I’m not saying complete destroy the team to get him, but if it’s at all possible and if it might hurt the lineup just a tiny bit, I say go for it! This may be the one chance we have to land a huge free agent like this. Cause there sure as shit ain’t much else out there for a while. Here’s a quick list:
- Anze Kopitar – 2016
- Eric Staal – 2016
That’s it for the next two years. Good luck, Toronto.