Steven Stamkos to Toronto? Analyzing the Possibility for the Maple Leafs

Photo Credits: AP Photo/Chris O’Meara

Last week, the Tampa Bay Lightning turned heads around the league when the team announced they re-acquired defenceman Ryan McDonagh from the Nashville Predators. 

With McDonagh’s return, the Lightning now have his hefty $6.75 million contract on their salary, which poses a significant challenge in re-signing their long-time captain Steven Stamkos, especially with free agency just five weeks away.

Tampa has a couple of holes to fill in their lineup, and they only have a little cap space at $5 million to spend. The Lightning will have to decide whether they want to bring back Stamkos or lose him for nothing. The Lightning still has a great core in Brayden Point, including Anthony Cirelli, Victor Headman, and Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois has stated that the team wants Stamkos to be a part of the Lightning moving forward.

In 2016, Steven Stamkos was set to become an unrestricted free agent. This situation caused the hockey world to go into a frenzy as all signs pointed to him signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Although it was reported that he came close to doing so, he re-signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning and eventually won back-to-back Stanley Cups with the club in 2020 and 2021.

With Stamkos now 34 and at the back end of his career, will he do what other Toronto-born players do near the end of their careers and join the Leafs? This would be similar to Eric Lindros, who almost became a Maple Leaf in 2002. Unfortunately, things fell through, but he eventually joined Toronto for the 2005-06 season. It could happen.

If Tyler Bertuzzi doesn’t re-sign with the Maple Leafs, his $5.5 million contract will be freed up, potentially paving the way for Toronto to make a move for Stamkos. If Toronto signs Stamkos, it could be beneficial for the Leafs, adding another formidable weapon to their roster and potentially filling the void of a playoff/winning performer that the team has been missing for a long time.

In 1082 NHL games played, Stamkos has 555 goals and 582 assists for a total of 1137 points.

Stamkos would play with his hometown team, allowing him to play with Auston Matthews, William Nylander, Mitch Marner, and his long-time friend John Tavares.

Stamkos on the Leafs would give the Leafs plenty of options. They could put him on the left wing with Auston Matthews or even at second-line centre and move John Tavares to the wing.

The pressure on him would be immense if the Leafs can secure a deal with Stamkos. However, it’s a challenge he’s proven he can handle, as he thrives under such circumstances. If a deal is reached, it’s likely to be a contract similar to Claude Giroux’s, who signed a three-year $6.5 million contract with the Ottawa Senators in 2022.

Currently, Stamkos to the Leafs is at +2800 odds on bet365.

Eyes will be on the two-time Stanley Cup winner as we approach the July 1st free agent frenzy.

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