Heading into the off-season Steven Stamkos is set to become the most coveted UFA to hit the market in years. It seems like the hockey world is split between where they think Stamkos will land on July 1; either he re-ups with the Tampa Bay Lightning or returns home to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs. But what if he were to sign with the Edmonton Oilers?
I’m sure that many of you reading this will probably laugh at the idea of Stamkos leaving the warm weather and a Stanley Cup contender to come play in the harsh winter for a perennial loser, but there are reasons to believe that Stamkos and the Oilers could be a great fit.
The biggest selling point GM Peter Chiarelli has is offering Stamkos a spot on Connor McDavid’s wing for the next seven years in state-of-the-arena to play in. The four-time 40 goal scorer who recorded a career-high 60 goals in 2011-12 gave McDavid some heady praise before the season.
“He’s way better (than me),” Stamkos said. “He is good. The best I’ve seen for a player that age.”
Would Stamkos be willing to switch from centre to right-wing? If so, the Oilers would have an elite pair that would be on par with the likes of Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin or Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. With McDavid expected to take another massive step toward being the best hockey player in the world next season, having arguably the league’s best goal scorer not named Alexander Ovechkin on his line would make them two frontrunners to take home some major hardware at the NHL Awards for years to come.
Let’s just pretend Stamkos is interested in coming to Edmonton. What’s it going to cost? Stamkos and his agent reportedly took the Lightning’s initial offer of $8 million a year over the winter and threw it in the trash, so it’s fair to assume the Oilers would be handing out the biggest contract in franchise history. If I had to guess, I’d say somewhere in the ballpark of $11 million a year for seven years, which would take Stamkos up to 33 years of age and ensure that he is a part of the team through McDavid’s prime years.
However, there is an event later this week that could completely snuff out any possibility of a Stamkos signing, and that is the draft lottery. Should the Oilers win one of the three lottery draws and decide to keep the pick, then bringing in Stamkos probably wouldn’t make sense for the orange and blue.
With Leon Draisaitl needing a new deal in 2017 and McDavid able to sign long-term next year as well, adding in yet another high pick who will surely command a high salary down the road makes a Stamkos signing unrealistic for the Oilers. It could end up being a smarter move for the Oilers to bring in another player in McDavid’s age wheelhouse who can grow with the group.
I still think Stamkos will re-sign with the Lightning, and if they win the Cup this spring, those chances only increase, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping the Oilers were to get this guy. It will be interesting to see how this story develops over the next nine weeks and whether or not Chiarelli decided to go all in signing number 91.