At this time of the season, closing in on the February 29th NHL trade deadline, it doesn’t take much to get fans excited. There are so few trades completed in today’s NHL, vastly due to the salary cap, that the simple thought of seeing some roster movement has everyone, including players, on edge.
On a segment of Hockey Night in Canada, insider and former NHL player Nick Kypreos has made a lot of Toronto Maple Leafs’ fans angry when he stated his opinion on the future of Tampa Bay Lightning’s Steven Stamkos. You see, Leafs’ fans strongly believe that if the star sniper decides to sign elsewhere than Tampa Bay, he’ll want to head home to Toronto. Kypreos doesn’t believe that the Leafs are a good fit and stated that in his opinion, the Montreal Canadiens had a better chance at signing the pending UFA.
Some reports say that Stamkos likes Tampa Bay and intends on signing a new contract with the Lightning. Other reports claim that he doesn’t get along with coach Cooper and that he would be willing to waive his NTC if the Lightning agreed to trade him. With both Steve Yzerman and the Stamkos clan staying mute about it, the only thing that we know for sure is that we know nothing about what will happen.
I don’t often see eye to eye with Kypreos who often comes across as arrogant and not so smart, but I have to agree with him in this case. IF (and that’s a big if) Stamkos decided to test the free agents’ market his coming summer, the Canadiens would be the best suited Canadian team for him and that, in spite of the huge setback the team encountered this year.
While each Canadian team has some good elements, no other team has Carey Price (28) in goal, a goalie who will win you games all by himself on a regular basis. Only Ottawa has a Norris Trophy calibre defenseman but the Habs can match that with P.K. Subban (26). The Canadiens’ already have a proven 30-40 goals’ scorer in Max Pacioretty (27) and has a former 3rd overall pick in Alex Galchenyuk (22). The Habs can also count on one of the best spark plugs in the game in Brendan Gallagher (23).
No other Canadian team has that kind of youth and quality to surround Stamkos (26) with and they do have a need for a top end, right-handed centre like him to make the team an instant contender. Further, as pointed out by Kypreos, Subban can work the sales pitch number on him as the two have been friends for since their early years in minor hockey on Toronto.
Having said all of that, don’t hold your breath folks. Remember when Vincent Lecavalier (in his prime) kept telling the media (his friend Renaud Lavoie in particular) how he would “love to play in Montreal”? He never did. He was simply using the Canadiens as leverage to get more money from the Lightning, a place where he loved playing. Something tells me that Stamkos will do the same if push comes to shove.
Further, it was reported that Yzerman offered a contract of over $8 million per season to Stamkos a couple of weeks ago. When Toews, P. Kane and Kopitar fetch just over $10 millon, it’s not far-fetched to think that this would be the magical number for Stamkos and this would mean that both sides would only be a couple of million dollars apart… which isn’t a big gap for a player like Stamkos.
If I was a betting man, my money would be on him re-signing with the Lightning but if you ask me which Canadian team is best suited for Stamkos, the Canadiens are far ahead of anyone else, all bias aside.
Go Habs Go!