With Matthews drafted, Leafs will then turn attention to Stamkos immediately

Whether or not the Leafs should pursue Steven Stamkos in free agency has been a point of debate here and elsewhere for a while, as is the idea that Toronto will be (and perhaps always has been) a clear frontrunner for the star. But now with the month of June winding down and the draft just a week away, we at least know this is going to be settled soon, and we’ll get our answers one way or the other. However, for the Leafs’ front office, obviously things will be clearer before they are for us.

A week from tonight, not long after Mark Hunter gets up to the podium and announces “From the Zurich Lions…”, Lou Lamoriello and others will watch the clock hit midnight and officially be able to begin the process of courting Stamkos to Hogtown. 

Talk about a fun weekend.

As of June 25th, the Leafs will get to take advantage of a somewhat new rule that allows teams to interview pending free agents before the big “frenzy” day on July 1st. I think it’s safe to assume Lou and company will make a play for Stamkos, but as agent Allen Walsh grumbles, given this rule they’ll likely have their answer by early next week and be able to establish a Plan B if need be. One could argue that with the Matthews pick alone, Friday will be one of the most important moments in franchise history for Toronto, but the ability to get out of the gate in the Stamkos sweepstakes officially could mean that ramps up ten-fold in the 24-hours after.

Walsh explained the interview rule (and his disdain for it) on TSN 690 last night:

Roughly five days before free agency on July 1, unrestricted free agency, there’s a window that opens that’s called, under the CBA, the interview period, where teams and agents and players are allowed to officially and legally speak with each other. You’re allowed to discuss interest. The team is allowed to present the general parameters of what a contract would look like, or what an offer will look like on July 1. Those discussions take place right at the beginning of the interview period.

To be fair, you can see how, as an agent, this is a rule Walsh could do without, since it doesn’t really benefit players, and as he goes on to note, cuts down on a true frenzy of bidding wars somewhat.

But for a team like the Leafs, whose rebuild is in such an early and delicate stage, it probably helps to not have that level of panic associated with free agency. Same goes for fans.

Make no mistake, Toronto will draft Auston Matthews next Friday, and then they will go after Stamkos. How the latter plays out will probably be the most intriguing story of the summer, and the actual logistics of it are something to note as well. With scouts and front office staff still trying to further shape the future of the team through rounds 2-7 of the draft next Saturday, the higher-ups like Lamoriello and Shanahan might be up to something a tad bit more immediate.

Get ready for a nervous week, but certainly a better kind of nervous than we’re used to.

  • Jeremy Ian

    i’m going to be so excited/nervous for this day and for the rest of the summer specifically june 25-july 5 since that’s when free agency is crazy. i’m going to have to be black out drunk for this one that’s for sure.

  • Jeremy Ian

    What about the leafs trading for Stamkos’ rights a few days before the draft? Then Thursday night they can announce to the world that the new captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs is Steven Stamkos! Then on Friday Stamkos can put the Jersey on Auston Matthews!

    That would be the best week in Leafs history since 1967!

    • silentbob

      Even better, no announcement is made Thursday. On Friday Hunter and Lou take the stage, give their thanks to Buffalo and then they turn the podium over to “The new captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs” and then Steven Stamkos walks out from behind the curtain and announces: “From Zurich, the Toronto Maple Leafs select Auston Matthews”!

      Imagine what the fans gathered outside the ACC would do! Pandamonium! It would be bigger than the last time they won the world series!

    • silentbob

      Trading for his rights and just stopping anyone from talking to him does carry value for the Leafs. The question is…..how much.

      4th round pick and Bozak…….done and done.

      30th overall pick……I’ll wait until the 25th.

  • silentbob

    Do we really want an extra year of paying Stamkos at 33/34 $10M? Isn’t it better to have some more flexibility as our young players are potentially becoming UFAs?

  • Capt.Jay

    Remember when we had Rick Dudley and he left for Montreal and we were all bummed out? Man we used to be happy with ever we got. So glad Shanahan, Babcock, Dubas, Lou, and Hunter are here because I feel confident in whatever they do.

    I’ve never seen this in Toronto before where fans are patient and positive. The next 2 weeks will be incredible for Leaf hockey.

  • Capt.Jay

    Walsh does not like this rule because it cuts down on player contract “frenzy”. Well I think the players have done OK! Minimum NHL Salary up around 1/2Million$ One could only wish to have a job like that, a number of Dr’s would settle for that and that is just minimum.

  • Tybot

    This could be a snowball effect.
    First sign Matthews. That would make the Leafs already significantly better than 2015/16. Stamkos might like the sound of a team on the rise, especially his hometown.
    August 15 rolls around. Jimmy Vesey thinks about where to sign, sees Toronto on the rise, amazing talent in Stamkos and Matthews and wants in.

      • Tybot

        Late reply, but Jimmy Vesey just finished college, LW college star, won the Hobey Baker award, was signed with the Preds, and he was supposed to make a decision whether to sign his entry level contract with the Preds and get a few playoff games under his belt, but he declined. It was huge news, and now the hockey world is waiting to see where he signs, cause he could be a top 6 FWD right away. Should be pretty good.
        Oh, also, his brother is signed on by the leafs, and his dad also works for the Leafs. Hopefully thats enough to entice him to sign with us!

    • magesticRAGE

      As long as they don’t give Stammer a NTC to go with his shiny new contract. Don’t kill your flexibility in the future. Fleury would be a great temp goalie until they can draft/trade for the young heir apparent.

      • Gary Empey

        I have thought about NTC clauses recently. When signing an elite player today this is always a tough call. Making a guess I think adding a no trade clause to a player of Stamkos’s ability would cost him at least 1 million a year in salary. Since Nonis left I don’t think the Leafs have included any in their contracts. Some GM’s were giving them out like candy, to average players. With the salary cap and expansion now eminent this has screwed a few teams from making any moves to improve their clubs.

        Looking at the expansion alone I thought I seen one team with ten forwards with no trade clauses. They can only protect nine, so I have no idea how that will play out. After the excitement of the upcoming draft I think it will be lots of fun to speculate how each team will fare. One thing for sure. Thirty year old forwards with the NTC will be very hard to move. Leafs have (edit) I am researching the latest expansion draft rules

  • Harold Ballard

    I said it before and I’ll say it again. How will we be able to afford Marner, Nylander and Matthews (when their paydays come. And they will come) if we sign Stamkos? Not to mention the other core parts.

  • Gary Empey

    Elite players in their prime will always command top money. So either you want one or you don’t. The salary cap is designed to stop teams from grossly overpaying free agents who are really average or slightly better. Before the cap teams were happy to pay top money with term for players 29/30/31. Those days are now gone. Giving term to a 26 year old is a lot less risky. I notice Bowman in Chicago after signing two elite players has been forced to let some good players go for number one picks and prospects.

    While we have seen some of the effects of the cap, I don’t believe we have seen it all yet.

    • Gary Empey

      Tavares is signed for the next two years in NY. There is absolutely no grounds the think he would ever become available. He is well paid and happy. The NYI will be happy to resign him to a nice contract. New York City is on every player’s list of places they would like to play. If you want to compare who is better Stamkos or Tavares, fair enough. The chances of Tavares leaving are zero.

      The Rangers will be our biggest competition for signing Stamkos.

      • Harte of a Lion

        Two years ago there was ZERO chance that Stamkos would become a free agent. Now here we are discussing the Leafs signing him? He will be wasting 2-3 years of his prime while Lou rushes around trying to plug holes in the line-up. The Maple Leafs are not close to competing even with Stamkos.

        If signing Stamkos will cost us one of Nylander, Marner or Matthews due to the cap, would you still do it?

  • magesticRAGE

    I’d rather extend Marner’s and Connor Brown’s contracts, than pay a 32 Stamkos $10M/season. The sum of the parts will be better without Stammer. I’d rather spend more on the blue-line.

  • Old Geezer

    Would it be possible for the Leafs to Front load a Stamkos contract or is there a maximum yearly amount they can’t go over?
    I believe that their cap situation, especially starting next season is quite good.
    Would that help with the post entry level contracts of Matthews, Marner, Nylander, etc.