Talking about Steven Stamkos being traded is like talking about Gary Bettman not hating Canadian teams, or Michael Jordan trying to play baseball, it's probably not going to happen ever.
But for as long as Steven Stamkos and the Lightning trying to hammer out a new deal, everyone is free to speculate, guess, and wonder what Lightning GM Steve Yzerman might do with his young superstar.
Now Steve Yzerman might be a little bit sympathetic to young Stamkos as Yzerman was once a rising superstar himself, but one can only be so sympathetic because Stamkos reportedly turned down a $37 million, five-year deal with the Lightning.
If you're doing the division in your head that's $7.4 million a year.
Considering the "gem" of this year's free agent class, Brad Richards, accepted a front-loaded (cap-circumventing) contract of $60 million over nine years (or a $6.67 million cap hit); I highly doubt that Yzerman would be considering anything over the $7.5 million threshold.
Having said all of that, Stamkos did have more points than Brad Richards over the past two seasons (95, 91 respectively) so he might be looking for more money than Richards received.
(NOTE: This article does not in fact represent the opinions of the GMs in the League, but instead what would hypothetically make sense.)
The Ottawa Senators would make good trading partners for the Lightning.
Although some would see this as ludicrous because the Senators are coming off of their worst season since 1996-97, the Senators still have some decent talent.
Obviously to get Stamkos, they would have to give up a few pieces of the puzzle to get him, but this is not a completely unrealistic trading possibility.
I think that despite Stamkos being an RFA, the Senators would still have to send Jason Spezza and a first or second round pick in 2012 to the Lightning for this deal to happen.
Spezza could score more if he had more gifted team mates around him. He has only put up 57 points each of the last two seasons with the Senators, but if Stamkos does not bite at any contract offers with the Lightning, shipping him to the Senators for Spezza and a first-round pick could get the deal through.
The Senators would also be interested in making this deal happen as they have a substantial amount of cap space available to them (~$17.2 million per CapGeek.com).
Stamkos is young enough that he is a franchise player, and Ottawa could rebuild around him.
Another team that might be considered as a poor trading option for the Lightning is the New York Islanders.
The Islanders haven't just been bad the best few seasons, they have been bottom-of-the-barrel bad.
The past four seasons have all seen the Islanders at the bottom of the Atlantic division, and none of those seasons had the Islanders winning more than 35 games.
Having said that, the Islanders do have some up-and-coming talent on their team.
A combination of Josh Bailey and/or Kyle Okposo along with a first round pick in the 2012 draft could tempt Lightning GM Steve Yzerman enough to pull the string on a deal if Stamkos will not sign with his team.
Another interesting possibility that could play out is asking Evgeni Nabokov to waive his no-movement clause to be traded to the Lightning as a part of a trade for Stamkos.
Nabokov has refused to play with the Islanders (he originally tried to sign with Detroit last year but was claimed off of re-entry waivers by the Islanders) citing reasons such as his desire to play for a Cup contender, and the Islanders lack of playoff potential.
The Islanders GM Garth Snow has not had much luck signing free agents or putting together a winning solution in Long Island, but a big trade with the Lightning to bring Stamkos to Long Island combined with the salary cap space they have, (~$26.45 million per CapGeek.com) the Islanders could give Stamkos the money he needs as well to make a long term deal work out.
Winnipeg has the Jets back.
Winnipeg also has (per CapGeek.com) ~$18.46 million in cap space, plenty of money to sign Stamkos.
The Jets re-signed captain Andrew Ladd to a 5 year deal already this off season, and with other key components already there such as Byfuglien, Nik Antropov, Evander Kane, and Brian Little, there is little reason to doubt that Stamkos would not enjoy playing there.
Playing for the Jets would result in something Stamkos has never truly appreciated in his career: playing for true hockey fans.
There is little doubt that Jets fans everywhere rued the day that their Jets left for Phoenix, but with the Jets back in town, what better way to ensure games sell out for the next decade then by pulling the string on a Stamkos deal.
To get Stamkos, I would offer Zach Bogosian (who is also an RFA) as well as Ondrej Pavelec and a couple of first round picks.
Bogosian still has lots of potential, although perhaps not as much as originally thought because he played in Atlanta to start his career.
In Ondrej Pavelec, the Lightning would get a solid goaltender (as they didn't have a decent goalie til Roloson was acquired last year) and he could either start, or backup whoever the Lightning started.
I could see this trade working out very well for both sides if it went through.
The only qualm either GM would have is this season being division rivals with each other.
Steven Stamkos—barring any unforeseen injury to him—has a great career ahead of him.
Any or all of these teams mentioned, should at least be calling the Lightning and proposing these deals to Steve Yzerman.
Unfortunately for these teams, even if these deals went through, they would still have to re-sign Stamkos as he still is without contract.
But seeing as he is without contract they could wait until a team made him an offer sheet and then match the offer sheet, if Stamkos turned down any of the team's original contract offers.
At the very least, they would get the cover boy of NHL 12 on their team for a minimum of a year before Stamkos became an unrestricted free agent.
The publicity it would bring for the team as well as positive exposure for next year's free agent class is almost unimaginable at this time for the Jets, Senators, and Islanders.
As a hockey fan I would be remissed if I did not mention the Toronto Maple Leafs as a possible team to acquire Stamkos, but as there are about five other pieces out there about possible "Stamkos to Leafs" deals, I figured I would save my breath.
Needless to say, if Lightning GM Steve Yzerman cannot get Stamkos to sign a long term contract before August, he might start taking calls from other GMs, and teams like the Sens, Jets and Islanders (however improbable) are all destinations for Mr. Stamkos.