The Leafs are probably going to sign Steven Stamkos

The Leafs are probably going to sign Steven Stamkos next summer for an obscene amount of money – a league max contract perhaps. This should sound ridiculous, but in this bizarre era of the team it simply doesn’t. You can laugh about it or get all defensive, especially if you’re a Tampa fan, but he’s not locked up yet and this season is a month away. We’ve been down this road before. 

If you asked me if Stamkos to the Leafs was possible at the end of last season, I would’ve made some HFBoards-related joke and acted like a jerk on twitter. But that was pre-Babcock. That was pre-Lamoriello. It was before Shanahan decided to just do whatever the hell he wanted.

The reason Stamkos seems like a real possibility now is two-fold when it comes to the Leafs’ new general manager/coach combo. First off, the pure shock from each of those hirings this summer was beyond anything I’ve seen in my time following the team. I truly couldn’t believe it. But secondly, it’s what these two guys now bring to the table in terms of potentially swaying players to Toronto, a place that seems to finally be turning a corner in the sports world as a desirable place to play, particularly in other leagues.


If we look at the Babcock signing itself, there are parallels we can start drawing with the pending Stamkos situation. The Leafs had been rumoured to be in on Babcock for nearly two years, and when things started to get down to a sort of crunch time, the key moment everyone zeroed in on was how he went into last season with the Wings. It was essentially a foregone conclusion he’d be out of Detroit if things weren’t done prior to the season, and the Leafs were always right there as a prime suitor. Was there some communication there between the two sides all along? We’ll obviously never know due to that being, uhhh, tampering, but if the Leafs knew long ahead of time they were willing to give Babcock by far the biggest coaching contract in history, they likely had a way of letting him know.

Then there’s just simply the Babcock effect itself, his resume and status in the hockey world. There’s a reason he’s been tasked with taking the Canadian team to gold in the last two Olympics, and players obviously notice. He instantly establishes a level of respect for the Leafs, especially for potential incoming players. Just how much might be overblown, but there’s no doubt it’s real. These are human beings.

With Lamoriello, again we have that major shock factor with his hiring, perhaps even more so than with Babcock. With Babcock the Leafs just dumped money at him and promised him the world until he couldn’t say no, but Lamoriello was plucked from a team he was with for TWENTY-EIGHT YEARS. He was the Devils. If the Leafs do manage to lure Stamkos to Toronto next summer, it’d actually still be less surprising than the Lou deal. Seriously.

And with Lamoriello, like Babcock, there’s a level of respect demanded league-wide and, for players, desirability to lace them up for a legend. Lou just straight-up does what he wants and no one can stop him. Stamkos will likely see a max deal if the Leafs want to snag him, and the last time the league was pushed to its limit, Lou was the guy to do it with the Kovalchuk deal. He certainly isn’t afraid to blow the doors off and make headlines.

Mainly what it comes down to with Stamkos is this upcoming season, puck drop in October, and whether he’s locked up in Tampa when things get going. If he isn’t, the whole Babcock scenario seems to go into repeat and I’ll truly be convinced him coming to Toronto can be in the cards. And let’s be honest, we all know if there’s going to be a max or near-max deal on the table for Stamkos from Toronto, he knows it. He knows it right now.

And I’m not the first person to wonder if things can go awry in Tampa. Justin Bourne of TheScore tackled this topic from Yzerman’s standpoint just a little while ago. I mean, it’s not unbelievable, and as the season approaches the whole situation just takes on a new life. IF it gets that far, we start talking about teams who might be in on this, and there’s no doubt Toronto is at the front of that line. It’s also a nice coincidence that they just unloaded nearly $8-million in cap space for the next seven years. 

It would almost be too perfect for this to happen really. Shanahan has floored the hockey world with his coaching acquisition, then brought in the godfather of general managers, and now it’s time to complete this sort of holy trinity with a massive signing of a megastar player. 

  • CMpuck

    Not getting my hopes up and drooling over the top five or the 2017 draft, that would be a good year to tank.

    I think Kopitar hits the open market next summer as well, not that I’d expect he’d sign here but is anyone going to sign big money long term with the Kings after they terminated Mike Richards’ contract?

    Kopitar can’t trust the Kings to honor their contract if he became baggage for whatever reason down the road.

  • Keon for King

    Dang man if the leafs could Draft Chyrchrun or Austin Matthews and Sign Stamkos they would be set for the next 5 years!!!! Just imagine a lineup of first line: JVR Stamkos Marner second line: Kapenin Matthews Nylander third line: Holland Kadri Brown That top 9 is Discusting!!!!!

  • Benjamin

    This makes me leery. This is all hypothetical obviously but I would want the team to still be able to sign a few top guys beyond Stammer.

    If we did have another 1 or 2 guys that could put up 60-75 points, I’d wanna be able to sign them (plus Reilly) without leaving the net empty.

  • silentbob

    Remember when it was Nash who was going to sign here? Or Thornton before that? Or when Ovechkin wanted to be a Leaf once he could leave Washington?

    Yzerman isn’t going to let one of the top 3 players in the league walk away when his team’s window of being a cup contender is wide open.

    • Benjamin

      if he can’t sign him, he can get a king’s ransom for him. who said anything about letting him walk away. crazy things have happened before. I think a lot of ontario players will want to play for their hometown team in a few years once we’re no longer an embarrassment. remember how bad Tampa was a few years ago even with stamkos and hedman? now players are clamouring to play there on discount deals.

    • Benjamin

      and let’s not forget that Tampa is going to be cap strapped in the near future since hedman is a ufa 2017 (I think) and the triplets will need to be signed soon too due to their elc being up around that time and hedman and the triplets need to be paid. their cap situation looks bad in a few years. look at how much Callahan is being paid and bishop… there are some big contracts there and some big players needing to be paid soon. they’ll have to sell off their top talent whether it’s the triplets or stamkos. either way, they’ll command a king’s ransom

      • silentbob

        They’d do the samething teh Blackhawks did a few seasons ago – keep the best players and move/trade away the good, but not great, supporting players. They didn’t trade Toews or Kane or Keith, or even Sharp, Hossa, or Seabrook. They moved out guys they could afford to lose like Ladd, Byfuglien, Versteeg, Barker, etc… Thats what the Lightning will do.

        @Jay – There is always some “Ontario Kid” – Nash, Thornton, Ovechkin who was “an Ontario kid at heart” come to mind right away – who just can’t wait to sign with the Leafs.

        If the Leafs are lucky enough to be in this position in a few years with Marner (for the sake of argument) in Stamko’s place, how many Leaf fans will be saying “how it makes sense” for the Leafs to trade away their best player in his prime, right when the Leafs are good enough to challenge for a cup?

  • Benjamin

    Psshh no way.

    League max is $14.3 million this season. Let’s say it stays the same, would you rather have a mere 1 Steven Stamkos or 16.34 Mike Santorelli’s?

    I rest my case.

  • Benjamin

    What Benjamin said. Because it wouldn’t be very ‘moneyball’ to sign a superstar for superstar money. Kyle and the stats boys will make sure Stamkos to Toronto never happens. They’ll sign a bunch of Santorellis instead, flip them at the deadline, rinse, repeat. And that may well be the right thing to do.

    • silentbob

      “Moneyball” doesn’t work when you follow it that strictly. Teams that win are ones which find a balance between between the two approaches. There is a reason the As have never won a world series but teams like the red soxs have.

      If Stamkos becomes available I’d be shocked if the leafs didn’t purse him very aggressively. He just won’t become available.

      • Gary Empey

        Tell that Cam Charon who two seasons ago claimed that Jake Gardiner was the Leafs’ best defencemen. I’m telling you there’s going to be a huge debate within the commanding heights of Leafs’ organisation about whether or not to pursue Stamkos if he becomes available. I’m thinking the old guard (Lou and Babcock) will want him and Dubas and his stats boys will be against it. In any case, I don’t think Stamkos will be getting 14 million – if he comes here it will be at a huge hometown discount. This debate may well be what blows up the boardroom as some have predicted when Lou got hired.

  • Gary Empey

    Click bait. The headline was stupid, the article not much better. It’s 1000 times harder to get a star player than a very good management person, like come on, the best coach just moved teams, the best star player to recently move is Phil Kessel and he might not even be a top 15 or 20 player. Tampa just made the finals, stamkos isn’t leaving.

  • Danglishish

    Oh yes, I remember the good old days when Leafs fans were convinced… CONVINCED! that McDavid would refuse to sign with the Oilers and come to the beloved homeland, Toronto. Now it looks like they’ve moved on, and are convinced that Tampa will let a talent like Stamkos leave… and to where else? Toronto!

    Common theme? Why wouldn’t a player leave their team to play for the Leafs? I’m guessing if you asked Kessel or Reimer over a beer they may have a few answers for you.

    Sorry guys, you need to give up on the pipe dreams… it’s starting to look a bit pathetic. Just a little bit.

  • Danglishish

    Hahaha leafs signing stamkos. You guys must all be on glue. There is no way Stevie y will let him go. Straight up dillusional. Leafs will suck forever. They are the worst franchise in the last 50 years