Don’t Even Think About Trading for Steven Stamkos

Last week, TLN’s very own Ryan Fancey ruffled a couple feathers with his very point-of-fact assertion that Tampa Bay star Steven Stamkos will (probably) become a Toronto Maple Leaf when he becomes an unrestricted free agent next off season. 

I wouldn’t say I’m willing to call it yet, but I do think that where there’s smoke, there’s quite often fire. Stamkos-to-the-Leafs has been telegraphed for years now, and I can’t imagine the 25-year old hasn’t seriously considered joining his home town team, with its new look front office, coaching staff, and prospect pool, just ahead Toronto’s centennial season in 2017. 

It’s for all of those reasons as well that the Leafs would want Stamkos as much (and probably more) than he would want them.

On The Block?

In his triumphant return to hockey writing after summer vacation, Elliotte Friedman revealed that the Tampa Bay Lightning may have discussed the possibility of trading Stamkos before he hit free agency…

It’s crazy to think [Tampa Bay’s] future wouldn’t include Stamkos, since the moment they traded Martin St. Louis, the Lightning couldn’t move fast enough to take down the former captain’s mural outside the arena and replace it with the new leader.
However, approximately two weeks ago, a rumour made the rounds that there were trade talks involving Stamkos before the draft. (His no-move clause kicked-in days later.) The best intel I could gather is that it didn’t get close. Some sources indicate teams called Yzerman to ask. Others say the Lightning wanted to check the market in case they eventually had to do something.

Whether Tampa initiated these trade talks or not, it would make sense to test the market on Stamkos. After all, there are few things that can cripple an organization as quickly as letting a true star talent walk for nothing. Performing due diligence here is nothing new.

At the same time, it would be a no-brainer for the Leafs to inquire about Stamkos’s services and get a better understanding of what kind of package it would take to land him. But under absolutely no circumstances should Toronto actually try and trade for him.

Hang Up The Phone

Acquiring Stamkos in any way other than via free agency would make no sense whatsoever. He’s a great player – one of the best in the world, surely – but Toronto is not a deep enough organization to both trade for him and also surround him with an adequate supporting cast.

The Leafs top, non-roster assets right now are a trio of high-end prospects in Mitch Marner, William Nylander, Kasperi Kapanen, a pair of 2016 first round picks and a single 2017 first round pick. 

It’s not unreasonable to think that half of them would need to go the other way in any Stamkos trade. And that’s not even including the necessary roster pieces, which could very well mean one (or two) of Morgan Rielly, Nazem Kadri or Jake Gardiner is heading to Tampa Bay as well.

Stamkos would solve many problems for the Leafs, but trading for him would set back (or completely destroy) a remarkable rebuilding effort so far. Not to mention, adding Stamkos to Toronto’s current barebones, skill-starved roster would just waste his abilities.

Get Out The Checkbook

Like I said earlier – I believe there’s a very real chance that Stamkos ends up in a Toronto Maple Leafs uniform by this time next year. But there are both good and bad ways to go about getting that done.

Be patient and wait until Stamkos hits the free agent market. You will need to pay an insane amount of money for him, certainly, but that will be true whether you trade for him before the deadline or not. 

And if he doesn’t hit free agency, by either re-signing with Tampa Bay (which is still a strong possibility), or signing a new contract with whatever team acquires him (which I think is the least likely scenario), just accept that Stamkos was never meant to be. 

Most importantly, if the Leafs don’t land Stamkos, they need to continue to trust the rebuild process. Adding him for nothing but dollars and term only helps accelerate the Leafs journey back to regular playoff and championship contention, but forcing a move could undo all of the hard work that has made Toronto one of the most impressive systems in the league.

  • Gary Empey

    It makes sense to me. I did read Tampa wants him to switch to the wing. He didn’t look too happy there in the finals.

    If he does hit the free agency market I wonder what sort of bidding war it would generate.

    • That’s unlikely. Anyone trading for Stamkos would make any picks they sent the other direction conditional on him resigning with the team. You don’t rent one of the top 5 players in the league in his prime.

  • ushaped

    You are absolutely right. I love Stamkos but he would have the same effect that Kessel had on toronto when he was brought in and the Leafs were not ready to win. He would make the leafs a bubble team or a first round exit year after year and we would have 10-20 picks in the draft for the next 7 years. Not to mention, like you said, Tampa would probably want our 2016 first rounder which then would likely end up as a top 3 pick and we have seguin 2.0 situation in leafs land. Matthews and chychrun look sick and pulujarvi or tcachuk don’t look too bad either. Ultimately, the assets tampa would want would out weigh stamkos’ value even though I love him. If he makes it to UFA then sure, but otherwise let’s draft our own stamkos/seguin for once and stop coveting other team’s superstars.

    • silentbob

      I think the idea is that Stamkos would be the veteran leader on the team with the younger group (Marner, Rielly, Nylander etc…) supporting him, unlike when Kessel or Sundin was brought in and we didn’t have a group like that on the horizon.

      • SEER

        No, the idea is that most of that younger group would be traded back to tampa if the leafs got stamkos via trade so don’t do that. You’re losing one of marner or nylander if you trade for stammer as well as the leafs 2016 first round pick very likely, and thats just a start. Like the article says a roster player like Reilly or Kadri would likely head the other way as well. Those first two assets alone already make me feel uncomfortable when Toronto is so early on in the rebuild. I know what you’re saying about Stamkos being the veteran leader, but I only like it if he comes via UFA and we don’t give up assets. Once stamkos is on board it is harder to continue rebuilding because your draft pick quality will decrease.

  • SEER

    Well.. I am rarely on-line with the majority of thinkers.., but I think we should just hold tight right now and see how some of our prospects develop, because we are in a re-build.. and dropping salary costs is also about making sure we have the money in the future to hold onto the best ones for a long, long time..

    On the other side of the coin, I love Stamkos.. But, I am also like some others in here and don’t want us to trade away top prospects just to land him in Toronto.. I say we should be patient… and wait until trade deadline day.. and see where everyone stands, with Babs at the helm…


    No one can call me prejudiced, because I make videos for all of our players, even if they are presently on the bottom of my personal list… I do give everyone the opportunity to prove themselves again at each season start… and even though he wasn’t in my good books last season…, I think that this guy still has the ability to produce what he was known for.. and his best chance to show this, is this season with Babcock…

    So.. here’s my newest video for our present Captain.., highlighting all of his goals.. and a heck of a lot of his body-checks, from the last two seasons… Hope it inspires everyone to stand behind all of our players, for a fresh start to this new and exciting season…

    **** TWO days, until the Rookie Tournie begins, people..! WOO-HOO..!!



      • Gary Empey

        SB- Seer makes no money on his utube channel. It is his hobby. If seen the Leafs win their last three Stanley Cups then he is like me retired and a long time Leaf fan. His makes those videos for himself and all other Leaf fans. He simply uses utube as a vehicle to post them. I imagine other people also wonder if Seer’s links were really ads to his channel.

        I am sure if management felt he was using this site for free advertising your point would be valid.

  • Puck_Stops_Here

    I wouldn’t consider trading for him. The price to get him would be substantial. Stamkos would be the next Sundin team version 2.0 in the cap era. A team with a great player but no supporting cast. Not worth it.

  • Leafydudetwitter

    I actually do not want to sign stamkos. Too much term and cap hit for a player just beginning their peak and decline. Trust the rebuild. Save ca space for our drafted players. Stamkos is not the long term solution.