Ever since Bob McKenzie casually mentioned that the Tampa Bay Lightning might be looking at Steven Stamkos and his contract as a way to move cap space, the idea and speculation have refused to die. Now, it seems like there might be some fire behind that smoke, as additional insiders are reporting that Julien BriseBois may have approached the captain about waiving his no-movement clause.
In his always-excellent “31 Thoughts
” column, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman stated the following:
…I do believe Stamkos was asked to consider waiving his no-move by Tampa Bay. There’s a wall of secrecy around it, and the captain is recovering from surgery. Obviously, his health is a huge factor. (Stamkos calmed the Lightning after their emotional overtime loss in Game 5 of the Stanley Final, re-assuring them, reminding them how well they played.)
The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun has also referenced the possibility of Tampa looking to Stamkos as a means to fix their cap woes.
There’s a school of thought prevalent in out-of-town circles that says: “The Lightning won without Stamkos, so freeing up his $8.5M seems like the easiest thing to do!” From my perspective, that suggestion misses the mark on a number of fronts. It’s true that the Lightning won without Stamkos in the lineup, but it’s not true that they won without Stamkos. He was very much there, and very much a part of the team’s time in the bubble. Beyond that, winning without him doesn’t mean that he would have failed make the team better; when healthy, there are few value-per-dollar options better than Stamkos in the National Hockey League. Replacing Tyler Johnson or Cedric Paquette with a healthy Stamkos makes the Lightning's trip to the 2020 Stanley Cup easier, not harder.
From an emotional perspective, it’s difficult to hear that the Lightning are even considering a walk down this road. Stamkos is the face of the franchise. He represents hockey in Tampa, and has since a very dark era in the team’s history. Him setting the tone by taking less, such that Steve Yzerman and BriseBois could build a winner around him, is a major reason that the Lightning are champions today. Regardless of whether it makes sense from an asset valuation perspective, giving up more assets to clear other cap space from the roster *feels* better than the idea of asking Stamkos to move. His work with this organization has given him the right to call his own shots.
The good news on that front is that the aforementioned no-movement clause lets him do that. All indications I’ve received and seen from various sources are that he has no interest in moving. He wants to win again in 2021, and he wants to do it as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
As always, thanks for reading.