Why a sign and trade with Steven Stamkos is possible
The Steven Stamkos Sweeptakes could be over before Friday's opening of free agency, whether he re-signs with the Lightning or not.
That's because there may be motivation, from both Tampa Bay and Stamkos, to orchestrate a sign-and-trade, if it's decided the captain isn't returning to the Lightning.
For Stamkos, 26, it's the only way he'd be able to get an eighth year on a contract from anyone, including the Lightning. Everyone, including Tampa Bay, can only offer seven when free agency opens at noon Friday. For Tampa Bay, a sign-and-trade is a way to get an asset for Stamkos as opposed to losing a generational scorer and face of the franchise for nothing.
GM Steve Yzerman was asked at last weekend's NHL Draft if he'd consider a sign-and-trade with Stamkos, if he knew the All-Star center was gone.
"Never given it a thought so maybe I should think about it,” Yzerman said. “It’s an interesting idea … well losing him for nothing or losing him for an asset? I’d love to get an asset for him."
It's uncertain what "asset" the Lightning could get in return, but it could be in the form of a draft pick or prospect or a combination. If you're a team that's going to win the Stamkos sweepstakes, sweetening the pot to make it happen makes sense. Plus it can lower the player's eventual cap hit by spreading his contract over eight years, as opposed to seven.
Stamkos' camp at Newport Sports in Ontario have been talking with other teams during this five-day interview window. Plenty are reportedly interested, from the Maple Leafs to the Sabres and Red Wings, to potentially the Canadiens and Canucks, along with probably a few wild cards no one is talking about.
While they're not supposed to talk contract, only "parameters" of a deal, it's not out of the realm of possibility for a sign-and-trade to be worked out. Stamkos, with a full no-move clause, would have to give permission, holding the cards to go to the team of his choosing.
There's still, obviously, the chance Stamkos signs with the Lightning. But either way, it'd make sense - for both sides - if it's decided before Friday.