Skip to content

Why chasing Steven Stamkos could be an ‘exercise in futility’ for Flyers, rest of NHL

Jun 29, 2011, 9:56 PM EDT

stamkosrfagetty Getty Images

For at least the next two nights, the hockey rumor mill will crank out ridiculous ideas about who might target pending restricted free agent star Steven Stamkos. Some people will also find convoluted ways to argue that Stamkos dislikes being a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning; others simply will find ways to think up wacky offers that GM Steve Yzerman cannot stomach.

That being said, it seems like any rumor is semi-reasonable about at least one team: the Philadelphia Flyers. GM Paul Holmgren stunned the hockey world by trading two of their best players (and nicest salary cap bargains) in Mike Richards and Jeff Carter last week, leaving many to wonder if there are any boundaries to the team’s strange dealings.

With that in mind, it seems necessary to at least ponder the far-fetched (let’s repeat that: far-fetched) notion of the Flyers throwing an expensive offer sheet at Stamkos.’s Tim Panaccio took the temperature of the team’s brass on that high-risk, high-reward subject in this story.

“A lot of indecision within a very decisive group, which isn’t like the Flyers,” said a source with knowledge of the talks.

The Flyers can’t decide among themselves whether it’s in their best interests to make an offer.

While the aggressive (and occasionally illogical) Flyers front office struggles with the pros and cons of making such a decision, they might want to ask themselves an important question: how much do they really want to waste their own time?

Look, if the last week or so taught us anything, it’s that desperate teams will do some crazy things if they think it will improve their chances. That being said, Yzerman must be aware of how damaging it would be to lose a star of the present and future like Steven Stamkos. If Stamkos isn’t a once-in-a-generation player, he’s at least likely to earn Hall of Fame consideration whenever he retires.

Maybe a team will mess up the Lightning’s collective balance by sending a maximum salary-type offer sheet Stamkos’ way, but Panaccio does a good job in capturing how unlikely it would be for any other squad to snatch Stamkos away.

“Whoever does this, Tampa has to match,” said the source. “It’s a bad position, but you have no choice. If you don’t sign this player in that market, you are guaranteeing yourself you have no upside with your fans. Yzerman knows that.”

So do the Flyers and the rest of the NHL.

“I cannot believe Philly is seriously considering an offer sheet,” said one prominent person familiar with the talks. “[Owner Jeff] Vinik is a billionaire. Tampa will match any amount. It’s an exercise in futility.”

That’s the key phrase: “exercise in futility.” Since the Lightning will probably match any offer sent Stamkos’ way, there’s really only one motive in sending an offer sheet: to hurt Tampa Bay’s depth. Perhaps a gargantuan Stamkos deal might cause the team to part ways with Vincent Lecavalier after they resisted moving him (and his bloated contract) for all this time. Maybe keeping Stamkos means parting with some combination of Sean Bergenheim, Teddy Purcell and/or Simon Gagne.

But let’s be clear about this: a 2011-12 Lightning team without Stamkos is almost unfathomable. Give the possibility a 1 percent chance. Then again, as the Flyers and Florida Panthers showed us during the last week, the implausible can become possible in the NHL.

(Don’t bet on it happening in this case, though.)

  1. sknut - Jun 29, 2011 at 10:14 PM

    It would cost so much in terms of draft picks that I can’t believe that any team would consider this. I guess some teams don’t mind throwing away draft choices, although it would make for fascinating drama to see a team make a run for him.

    • icelovinbrotha215 - Jun 29, 2011 at 10:42 PM

      You bring up a legitimate point. The thing is Stamkos is a proven commodity. Draft picks aren’t. If you are trying to win RIGHT NOW then giving an offer sheet seems like the right thing to do. On the other hand, it would be nice to see the Flyers hold on to their drafts picks. Guess that’s the price of trying to win it all every year. I hope we get Stammer. Trade Carle and Versteeg. Maybe Bobrovsky.

  2. dbick - Jun 29, 2011 at 10:49 PM

    Flyers might as well just offer stamkos this mega deal that is rumored because it’s a win win no matter what happens. Either Stamkos accepts and TB doesn’t match making him yours, or Tampa matches and they have just hamstrung an, allegedly, financially struggling team to a massive contract. Don’t see how it hurts to offer.

    • icelovinbrotha215 - Jun 29, 2011 at 10:57 PM

      It would put a strain on GM relations. Teams don’t like when other teams make offer sheets. I’m sure that could ruin possible trade partners down the road. But the Flyers should do it.

    • hystoracle - Jun 30, 2011 at 2:00 PM

      The Flyers don’t have the cap space to offer 10 years $115 mil or 12 years at $115mil.. And if they have already sent such an offer then they are tampering. Since, free agency doesn’t start til Friday. Which is why the Flyers were very quick to deny it.
      My bet is one of the esteemed writers in the hockey media has been either concocting his own numbers or speaking to Stamkos’ agents. Sounds like a negotiation tactic.

      Kind of like how Jon Gruden is linked to every coaching vacancy available in all of football (regardless of the level).

      • dbick - Jun 30, 2011 at 2:25 PM

        They’re allowed to be 10% over the salary cap in the summer. So they can offer it, and he can accept. But they’ll have to move pieces around to make it feasible by the start of the season.

  3. andyreidisfat - Jun 29, 2011 at 10:51 PM

    I am still not sure why this is sooo far fetched … The flyers with the trades of a back up goalie (who i’m guessing any team would love to have and one defensemen witch i think we all agree they wouldn’t be harmed much by the loss of one of them (imo timmonen witch would be 7 million) and bang the flyers can go to 11 million witch the lightning can’t match. They would go so far over the cap.

    Not only is this not far fetched but it seems more likely the closer we get to july 1st. If stamkos wanted to stay he would have signed already. My guess is the lighting also realize this and will work out a trade of some sort with either the flyers or leafs.

    Remember Panaccio is a douche bag who works for the same people that own the flyers. His word means nothing. He is nothing more than the Flyers media guy. He’s the same guy who said the chan es of carter being traded were nill and Richards even less. Then a few days later they were traded. If this guy is your best evidence that the flyers don’t have something already in the works and he saying they don’t ?? well then my best guess is they do lol

    • hystoracle - Jun 30, 2011 at 1:56 PM

      Do you think Stamkos may not have signed yet because his agents are waiting to see what kind of offer sheets they might get in attempt to maximize his $$? It is their job and the looming threat of an offer sheet gives them leverage in the negotiation.

      The Flyers better get busy making all those “witch” trades they have less than 24 hours til the free agency period and they only have $8 mil in cap space. I think the Bolts wouldn’t blink at matching $8 mil. (They have to have room under the cap to fit the offer sheet when it is offered). The real danger teams are Toronto ($18 mil cap space) and Florida (because they have to spend so much to get to the floor)

  4. flyinhighwithvick - Jun 29, 2011 at 11:35 PM

    Tampa will match any offer that comes across the table, but will then end up trading him in 2 years. I can’t see them paying St. Louis, LeCavilier and Stamkos in that market.

  5. stakex - Jun 30, 2011 at 2:11 AM

    I think you’ll see a team make a huge offer just to force Tampa to match, thus screwing with their cap. If your a team in the east, its a smart move actually…. unless of course Tampa doesn’t match the offer.

  6. aschwartz2011 - Jun 30, 2011 at 3:54 AM

    The Panthers would be a logical team to do this as they are in the Southeast and they either screw the Lightning (99999.9999% chance Bolts match any offer) or deal with a huge contract that helps get them closer to the floor.

    That being said Stammmer will be back with the Bolts, and I am pumped to see him get 60 next year.

  7. steve7921 - Jun 30, 2011 at 10:50 AM

    I know that GM’s hate when others make an offer just to “screw” the other guy, but is there anything from stopping a team from making an offer that is reasonable but has a “Tampa death clause” – meaning it is for say $7 million per year but if Stamkos plays 20 plus games in the city of Tampa each season then the deal becomes $12 million per year?

    • hystoracle - Jun 30, 2011 at 1:48 PM

      I don’t see the NHL approving of such a “death clause”. That would set a horrible precedent.

      If you were going to put in such a clause why do 20 plus games – You only would have to put the number at 4 regular season games and you’d be covered. No team plays more than three away games in Tampa in any one year.

      Again, I think that offer sheet provision would get it nullified by the league anyway. I’m pretty sure they have to approve of all these offer sheets/deals. And I don;t see that one getting approved. Look at the fuss over the Kovalchuk deal with the Devils last year. It is creative though.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. P. Kane (2146)
  2. P. Kessel (1330)
  3. M. Richards (1299)
  4. N. Backstrom (1210)
  5. M. Giordano (1021)