TLN Player Power Rankings: Leafs Played One Damn Game Last Week Edition

It’s been a long time since we’ve seen Leafs hockey, but tomorrow night we get a glimpse into the current Leafs, and get to check out a future Leaf as well. Besides a lot of things, having only played one game last week really puts a damper on the power rankings, as it’s essentially regurgitating Cat’s post game summary from Tuesday. 

I can give you two thousand words on how Garret Sparks makes me believe in god again, but Roman Polak reminds me that he’s a spiteful god, OR we can take a different approach, and do something different this week with Power Rankings.

I chose the latter, and for that reason we’ll be ranking future Leafs this week.

1. Steven Stamkos

You had to see where this was going right? 

Since absolutely every writer at The Leafs Nation has weighed in on Stamkos at some point besides me, and Steven (or Stammer as unoriginal hockey folk call him) is playing in Toronto tomorrow night,  I’ve decided what better time to chime in with my $.02 on the inevitable acquisition of a player who has the potential to be the most elite forward to have ever played his prime in Toronto.

The numbers on Stamkos speak for themselves, whenever he doesn’t have a coach trying to use him on the wing, he’s good for at least 40 goal/ 90 point pace. He’s a bona fide top line center which the Leafs have lacked since Sundin. 

Of course, you can draw the similarities to the fact that with Kessel being gone, Stamkos would also be without a winger for his line, but you’d be an idiot. For one van Riemsdyk is at least on par with late years Mogilny, and two, the Leafs likely wouldn’t have the coin for Stamkos is Kessel was still being paid in full.

I can sit here and shout number one center and goals at you all day, and that should be enough, but unfortunately for many people it isn’t.

If you’ve seen Stamkos, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the “C” on the front of his jersey. That C means leadership, and it’s something that people have wrongly/rightly been complaining about for the Leafs for years. No longer would the only leader in the locker room be a dude who turns up music, wears Red Bull hats, and prioritizes a game the next day instead of joining the organization in navel gazing at a former player, the Leafs would be adding a player who led a rag tag band of late round picks to the cup final. 

The other thing to remember is that we won’t have to suffer through any articles about his work ethic and how Stamkos spends his off season. Steven works out every summer with Gary Roberts, which according to pretty much everything, is the most important thing you can do to prove you are in “the best shape of your life”. Stamkos was one of the originators of this practice, so he gets bonus points for being super fit. It also means we can expect a Steve Simmons article on Stamkos’ favourite quinoa stand.

Maybe you don’t like scoring, first line centers, leadership, or work ethic. Maybe grit is your thing. Well, did you know that Steve Stamkos once had his nose sliced up by his visor, went to the locker room to have a cage put on his helmet, and returned to the game? 

When LeBron James sprained his…. (*Jon throws self into traffic to avoid finishing this thought*)

That brings us to the criticism that Stamkos is too old to be worth signing. 

Despite the fact that he’s an elite talent and would get half a season in for the Leafs before he’s even 27, this is apparently a thing that needs to be discussed. 

You see, some players (all) begin to decline as they age. Despite science’s amazing developments, they still haven’t been able to create a hockey player that ages like fine wine. The good news is that a player that you sign when their 26, and give a seven year contract to, is probably still going to have a some of their abilities when they are 33.

Mike Richards and Vinny Lecavalier do an excellent job of scaring people away from any long term contract, and generally, I’d agree that they aren’t worth the risk. It’s also very likely that we’ll have the Dave Nonis mentality and have to accept that years 5, 6, and 7 of the deal, you aren’t paying for a top line center, you are now overpaying for a guy who is probably a second line winger.

The interesting thing about years 5,6, and 7 are that they would come after a new CBA, and potentially a new round of compliance buyouts or equally pleasant loopholes. If the deal has gone bad, it wouldn’t be too hard to pull the emergency chute and land safely in a pleasant cap situation.

There is also the issue of potentially a $10M-$15M cap hit, which isn’t something that’s easy to ignore. It magically becomes more bearable when you realize that Polak, Grabner, Matthias, and Spaling departing essentially pays for Stamkos. All of these players can be replaced by Marlies or cheap replacement level players at a fraction of the cost, and you also add an elite forward. Neat.

boltsfortoronto

I guess what I’m saying is that Steven Stamkos is pretty good no matter how you look at him, and there isn’t really a horrible risk in signing him. Now it’s just a matter of all the rumours being true.

  • silentbob

    “still haven’t found a player that ages like fine wine” … hello, jaromir jagr? he could possibly play until he’s 50. he’s already 44 and outscoring Crosby at 28! jarome iginla is almos 40 and puts up great numbers and roberto luongo is consistently putting up elite numbers at almost 40.

  • Gary Empey

    Polak: $2.75MM
    Grabner: $3MM
    Matthias: $2.3MM
    Spaling: $2.2MM

    Total: $10.25MM

    That’s pretty damn good! Not perfect because we’d still have to pay the Marlies players we bring up but this gets me on board with paying him all that money.

  • Gary Empey

    Re-One Damn Game Last Week Edition

    What is up with the schedule. There are three games in four nights followed by long stretches off?

    You may be the last to weigh in on Stamkos but you hit the nail right on the head.

  • silentbob

    1) I think Stamkos “being on his own” in Toronto is a legit concern, and no JVR isn’t really a good option for a “running mate” so to speak. What you want (really need) is a duo like Crosby/Malkin, Toews/Kane, Datsyuk/Zetterberg, Getzlaf/Perry – even if they don’t play together you want/need a couple guys at that level. The answer is that Stamkos might be on his own for a year, but ultimately he’ll be the center piece with Nylander and Marner coming up to support him, then over time those 2 replacing him as the top offensive producers while Stamkos moves into the supporting role.

    2) The C doesn’t = leadership and hasn’t for a long time. I’m not saying Stamkos isn’t a leader (I’m completely ignorant on the subject), just that C isn’t proof of it. Sometimes the C is just an extra honor that teams give to their best players to help their egos.

    3) Yes its ridiculous to say Stamkos is too old to sign. Hell the fact that he is older then Rielly, Nylander and Marner is one of the biggest positives there is to signing him – he can act as a bridge. Being the best player on the team for the next 4-5 maybe even 6 or 7 seasons and then, at least hopefully, remain a leader and positive element of the team as others as he regresses and others develop and surpass him – the way yzerman and Shanahan were for Datsyuk and Zetterberg.

    4) I don’t get the salary issues either. If you want top talent you have to pay for it. Rielly, Nylander and Marner are all years away from being able to recieve the top salary they will get during their careers, and even if those guys all over lap at their peaks, lots of teams have figured out how to make this kind of situation work – at the end of the day, having to many great players to pay is a good problem to have.

    5) All that being said there is a potentially horrible risk to signing him – thats if they jump the gun to do so. The Leafs have some great prospects right now, but thats what they are, prospects. There is no guarente that Nylander or Marner or Kapanen or Rielly or anyone else will make the NHL, to say nothing of developing into a top line player. By signing Stamkos the Leafs are gambling on their current prospects, and if they don’t win that gamble Stamkos will probably end up in the same situation as Sundin and Kessel. I’m not saying they should or shouldn’t take the gamble, but we shouldn’t pretend there is no risk.