Steven Stamkos: Could Philadelphia Flyers Acquire Him Without Destroying Depth?
More than a week after the July 1 opening of free agency, the 21-year-old superstar is still an unsigned restricted free agent (RFA).
With each passing day that Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman fails to sign Stamkos, the imagined destinations for the scorer multiply—and seemingly become more likely.
Though Philadelphia has little cap space to work with, the Flyers would undoubtedly love to have a young superstar on their team if possible.
The highest cap hit in the NHL is Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals at $9.54 million, with Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin tied for second with $8.7 million cap hits. It's not unreasonable to believe that Stamkos could go in that range.
If the Flyers were to acquire Stamkos through either a trade or offer sheet, a few aspects of the deal are certain. Philadelphia would need to clear cap space and would have to move two centers either off the team or to a wing position.
Barring some ridiculous move, such as trading Chris Pronger, Danny Briere or Kimmo Timonen, the Flyers would need to move multiple players in order to make room for the cap hit Stamkos will carry.
With the recent signing of Wayne Simmonds and reworking of Maxime Talbot's contract, the Flyers currently have a total of 22 men under contract at the NHL level, with $1.58 million in cap space left.
The RFA compensation for signing Stamkos will likely be four first-round draft picks, since he will probably sign for above an average yearly salary of $7.8 million.
It would make sense that a trade offer for Stamkos would have to be more valuable than four first-round draft picks, otherwise Tampa Bay would be better off rejecting the trade and accepting compensation.
The Flyers already have Danny Briere, Claude Giroux, Brayden Schenn, Blair Betts and Sean Couturier at the center position. If Stamkos is added, there are far too many forwards playing down the middle of the ice. Moving one would be a likely option in the Stamkos acquisition.
Perhaps a trade offer of Brayden Schenn, Sergei Bobrovsky and two first-round picks would be more appealing to Tampa Bay than accepting the compensation of four first-round picks.
This would clear Schenn's $3.11 million cap hit, and if Bobrovsky is replaced by Niko Hovinen, Johan Backlund or Brian Stewart instead of Michael Leighton, this would save roughly $1 million in the backup-goalie slot.
If Stamkos is then signed for an amount that ties him with Ovechkin as the NHL's largest cap hit, the Flyers would find themselves $3.97 million above the salary cap.
The solution to clearing that space might be simple if Scott Hartnell waives his no-trade clause. The Florida Panthers might continue their spending spree and add the winger's $4.2 million cap hit in exchange for a first-round draft choice.
This would put the Flyers under the salary-cap limit and produce the following lineup (generated by using the calculator at CapGeek.com):
James Van Riemsdyk ($1.654m) / Claude Giroux ($3.750m) / Jaromir Jagr ($3.300m)
Andreas Nodl ($0.845m) / Steven Stamkos ($9.540m) / Jakub Voracek ($2.250m)
Maxime Talbot ($1.750m) / Daniel Briere ($6.500m) / Wayne Simmonds ($1.750m)
Jody Shelley ($1.100m) / Blair Betts ($0.700m) / Ian Laperriere ($1.166m)
Matt Carle ($3.437m) / Chris Pronger ($4.921m)
Kimmo Timonen ($6.333m) / Braydon Coburn ($3.200m)
Andrej Meszaros ($4.000m) / Andreas Lilja ($0.737m)
Oskars Bartulis ($0.600m)
Ilya Bryzgalov ($5.666m) / Niko Hovinen ($0.871m)
SALARY CAP: $64,300,000; CAP PAYROLL: $64,074,012; BONUSES: $978,500
CAP SPACE (21-man roster): $225,988
Some notes about the lineup include the 21-man total. If the Flyers were to scratch a defenseman, Bartulis could slide in to fill that spot.
To give an offensive player the night off would require a little more work. Bartulis would need to be sent down to the AHL, with an offensive player called up.
This might be a bothersome situation, but if it puts Stamkos on the team it's well worth dealing with.
Also, if Ian Laperriere is still unable to play, he could be placed on the long-term injury reserve (LTIR) and the $1.166 million in cap space could be used on a replacement player, such as Zac Rinaldo, Ben Holmstrom, Tom Sestito, Michael Testwuide or Eric Wellwood.
Here is a recap of the moves for Stamkos:
- Scott Hartnell, Brayden Schenn, Sergei Bobrovsky, two first-round draft picks traded.
- Steve Stamkos, one first-round draft pick acquired.
The roster produced earlier in this article clearly does not lack depth. Voracek, Jagr and Simmonds will likely produce at least 40 points this season.
Nodl and Talbot may only provide 20 points, but Giroux is set to deliver another 70-plus season and Stamkos would likely contribute another 90 points.
James van Riemsdyk could have his breakout season. If his playoff performance is an indication of his future, he could easily put up 70 points in 2011-2012.
This would give the Flyers a top-nine forward group averaging 45 points per player—an amount challenged by few teams in the NHL.
Add that to a stellar defensive core of Chris Pronger, Kimmo Timonen, Andrej Meszaros, Braydon Coburn and Matt Carle, back it with a Vezina-nominated goaltender, and the Philadelphia Flyers are a favorite for the Stanley Cup.
To say a Philadelphia Flyers acquisition of Steven Stamkos is unlikely would be an understatement at this point, but if the incredible event were to happen, it could take place without damaging the Flyers' depth.
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