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Bexhill On Sea • United Kingdom •

Steven Stamkos - A Leaf?

Posted 6:09 AM ET | Comments 1
Steven Stamkos is a UFA at the end of this season, and (as always when a big-time star becomes available) Leaf rumours are popping up all over the place. If he does in fact make it to free agency this summer, is it a good idea for the Leafs to go after him? Is it worth spending 10+ million dollars on one player? Is it going to fast-track our rebuild successfully? Or will it be another Phil Kessel move that ends up hurting us 5 years down the road? Here are my thoughts on if the Leafs should sign the two-time Rocket Richard winner.

Yes the Leafs should absolutely sign him!

Steven Stamkos is 25 years old (will be 26 when he is a UFA), was drafted 1st overall in his draft year, and has won the Rocket Richard trophy twice. Besides his slow rookie campaign, he has scored at a GPG clip of 0.599, which works out to around a 50 goal season pace on average. He is a career point per game player, which in today’s NHL is very tough to do. Stamkos has scored at least 40 goals in every full season he has played (4 time 40 goal scorer), he has scored at least 50 goals twice, and has scored 60 goals once. In the lockout year he was on pace for another 50, and in his injury plagued year he was on pace for 55. You can’t say his goal scoring is due strictly to playing on a good team, because even playing on Crosby’s wing for a year, you’re not going to score 40 goals unless you are a star. This information alone should make you not even hesitate to say YES we should sign him! Why would we not sign a consistent 50 goal scoring threat for the next 7 years? Let’s keep going.

Stamkos is from Markham (well, Unionville), and spends his summers back home (for the most part). He grew up a Leafs fan and he is a Jays fan. He is a shoe-in for a spot on Team Canada, and potentially even top-line potential on that team. If it wasn’t for his injury, we may have seen him play alongside Crosby in our hunt for the gold medal at the Olympics. When is the last time we had one of our own Leafs play a top-line role for Canada in the Olympics? I guess you’d have to count CuJo, but imagine being able to support our own Leafs on our own Team Canada again! So, a Canadian Olympian that grew up in Toronto, who just happens to score 40-50 (and sometimes 60) goals a year, of course we should sign him! Now does he fit into the Leaf’s overall plans?

The Leafs have started a full-blown rebuild, and are off to a good start with some solid core pieces. We have Rielly who looks to be top-pairing potential. We have Nylander and Marner who look to be future studs, as well as some other complimentary pieces. We are in the running for another top 5 pick this year, and looking at the 2016 draft, we’re either going to get a stud defender, or a big forward with skill and speed (either piece we desperately need). Now at the moment, the plan is probably to sell again this year, draft another blue-chip prospect, and give them time to develop. But the addition of Stamkos may make our future a whole lot clearer. Imagine adding Stamkos this offseason along with our high pick in the draft. We will have a successful rebuilding year of losing and being rewarded with a blue-chip prospect, and also get to add a world-class talent who is already developed all in one offseason! All of the sudden next year’s roster looks a little different. Stamkos is now the centre of attention, Marner, Nylander and this year’s top pick have much less pressure, which may make it a perfect time to bring them up. Marner and Stamkos seem to have playing styles that mesh pretty well. Marner likes to skate with the puck and create offense (St.Louis), and Stamkos has a crazy lethal shot and loves being set up. Marner and Dvorak have a similar game going right now in London, and in a couple years, Stamkos and Marner could have similar chemistry going. Marner may not be ready next year to step onto a line with Stamkos, but let JVR or someone else fill that role while Marner plays more sheltered minutes and develops properly. Imagine a top 6 composed of Stamkos, Marner, Nylander, and JVR, all being coached by Babcock… that offense would compete with any other top 6 in the league in a couple years.

Adding Stamkos this offseason would give the Leafs the top-line talent they’ve been looking for in the draft, and would allow them to focus on acquiring and developing other assets (defenders and goalies) through draft and trade. He is a much different player than Kessel, and the fact that we wouldn’t be giving up draft picks for him means we wouldn’t be repeating mistakes of the failed-rebuilds of the past. All of the sudden our rebuild has taken a very positive jump forwards, and the Leafs are fun to watch again! JVR-Stamkos-Marner…. or Stamkos-Nylander-Marner… Stamkos-Kadri-Marner… just think about the potential.

No the Leafs shouldn’t sign him

I will quickly skim over the section because that first section went way longer than intended.

Stamkos is a top scorer in the league, but he may not necessarily be the player the Leafs currently need. The Leafs are in the midst of a rebuild, and management has continually said they are going to ‘stick to the plan.’ Draft, develop, patience. They don’t want to take shortcuts, and don’t want to ruin the rebuild by making big time mistakes. There are a couple things about Stamkos that makes me wonder if he is the player for the Leafs.

First of all, is he that number one centre we covet? Cooper has had Stamkos playing the wing this season and for a good portion of last season. Much to Stamkos’ dislike, Cooper sees him as a winger. Tampa’s management must agree with Cooper, because if they didn’t like Cooper’s decisions/approach, there’s no way that would allow him to keep Stamkos on the wing, and there’s definitely no way Cooper would have been extended (like he just was). Tampa has major injuries at centre right now, and even with the lack of depth, Stamkos is still playing the wing. Dreger said on TSN a couple days ago that Stamkos is viewed around the league as a winger by other general managers as well. So even though he desperately wants to play centre, he is generally viewed by the league as a winger.

If he had played for Team Canada at the Olympics, he wouldn’t have been playing centre, he would have been on the wing. Now I’m not saying that having a 50 goal scoring winger is a bad thing, I’m just saying that he is not a top 4 centreman on Team Canada, and may not be viewed as a top line centre on most NHL teams either.

He is a star, no doubt about that, but is a 50 goal-scoring winger exactly what the Leafs need right now? We have a 30 goal scoring winger in JVR, and have a couple prospects who look like they may turn into 30+ goal scoring wingers in the future, so does it make any sense to add a star right now that will take up 20% of our salary cap that plays a position we already have? He is an all-star, but maybe not THE all-star we need. It still leaves those glaring holes at centre and defense. Even if he did end up playing centre, it may not be time for the Leaf’s to sign an all-star. We may be better suited to sticking to the plan, go through a couple more painful seasons and develop our own prospects who will mature and compete at the NHL level at around the same time. Adding Stamkos now may just be bringing us out of the basement to mediocrity, and hold us back from getting those high-end prospects that will eventually make us an elite team. Chicago waited until Toews and Kane were fully developed and elite before going out and signing Hossa.

What if (heaven forbid) Marner and/or Nylander don’t pan out as top line players? Does signing Stamkos mean we are banking on both of them to become top line players to compliment Stamkos? If one or both of them don’t pan out, then all of the sudden we have a star in Stamkos who is playing with a team of average players… not exactly a recipe for success. We already have a top line winger in JVR, does it make sense to upgrade JVR right now for 10+ million dollars over the next 7 years? That is a long time to pay someone if we’re not entirely sure that our team is ready for him.


I think we should sign him if it comes to it. It’s not every day a top line player who is only 26, is Canadian, and is a two-time goal-scoring champ becomes available. Leafs management is smart, and will have a good idea of where our team is at. I trust they will make the right decision, but I would love to see an offseason of drafting one of Matthews/Chychrun /Laine/Tkachuk and also signing Stamkos… Exciting times!
April 9, 2021 1:28 PM ET | Delete
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