REPORT: Toronto’s offer would have given Stamkos league’s highest cap hit

While Steven Stamkos and his representatives at Newport Sports Mangement have shied away from speaking about the circumstances that led to the 26-year-old forward’s sudden decision to stay with the Tampa Bay Lightning, a report from The Fourth Period suggests that the Leafs were more than willing to break out the chequebooks to make it happen.

From the article in question:

Toronto’s top management brass, the city’s Mayor, and several other key figureheads in the sports community, including corporate executives, reportedly met with Stamkos during the last week of June in an attempt to lure him to the Maple Leafs.

According to multiple sources with knowledge of those meetings, the Maple Leafs were preparing to offer Stamkos a seven-year, $73.5 million contract, which would have paid him $10.5 million, per season.

As far as the legitimacy of those numbers is concerned, I’m not 100% sold. In conversations with multiple people close to the situation leading up to decision day, the consensus was that Toronto’s “upper limit” was a number below that (though not significantly). At the same time, a passing knowledge of The Fourth Period’s Leafs-related scoops gives the impression (I stress that this is speculation) that at least one of their sources was an ex-Leafs player signed under Newport, so perhaps some benefit of the doubt can be given. Not to mention, it’s hard for me to claim that the things I heard were the correct ones when I ended up being wrong when it came down to the final answer.

Even still, I find it a bit odd that the team would feel the need to make their first official offer go above their supposed limit, especially with gossip that the much-hyped “endorsement portfolio” being presented was more valuable than the rumoured $3.5 million per year.

Speaking of endorsements, Canadian Tire CEO Michael Medline, who was suggested to have been part of the second and final meeting armed with an offer of an increased endorsement role with SportChek, was fired on July 13th. Canadian Tire is a top-tier MLSE sponsor, with cross-promotion deals that goes as deep as a SportChek location in Maple Leaf Square.

Now, would $10.5 million have been worth it? The raw numbers probably lean towards no; I’m not convinced that Steven Stamkos deserves to be the highest-paid player in the NHL both on and off paper. But as I mentioned in my “Let’s keep expectations low for John Tavares” post on Saturday, a player of Stamkos’ age and calibre hitting the market at no asset cost happens exactly once in never. 

You don’t want to pay at or above market value for depth players in a game where the goal is to undercut the market, but at a certain skill barrier, making the acquisition is undercutting it enough. Stamkos would have been that, and if the Leafs managed to close a deal at a $10.5 million cap hit, fans would have held their breath for a few moments before accepting the cost as worth the hassle.

It’s interesting to think about what moves the Leafs would have made if this worked out. Toronto currently has $3.55 million in Cap Space, and Nathan Horton’s LTIR placement will give them up to $5.3 million more in October. The team still has to sign Auston Matthews, Martin Marincin, Frank Corrado, Connor Carrick, Peter Holland, and a backup goaltender.

Trading Jonathan Bernier earlier this month freed up $4.1 million, but Toronto followed up on the Stamkos snub by committing $4.75 million to Matt Martin and Roman Polak. If I had to guess, at least one of those signings doesn’t happen in this scenario, and the team is likely a bit more aggressive in moving a forward like Joffrey Lupul, Tyler Bozak, Milan Michalek, or Brooks Laich.

Of course, these are all just hypotheticals now. Stamkos signed his eight-year, $68 million to stay in Tampa Bay, and the Leafs must and will move on without him. But it’s interesting to think of the outcome now that a rough number is out there.

  • Stan Smith

    My thinking was that signing Stamkos would be too risky and would end up handicapping the Leafs in the coming years.

    i also thought that if Stamkos really wanted to come to Toronto, and was willing to do it for no more than $10M, then I could live with it, but was still concerned. I guess he wasn’t willing to do that.

    I can’t say I blame him. He actually gets more money playing for Tamapa at $8.5M for 8 years than he would getting $10.5M for 7 from TO. Looking at tax rates for both places, if the numbers I see are correct, he gets $5.2M a year after taxes on Florida where he would have received $5M after taxes in TO grossing $2M more. The 8th year Tampa was able to offer him was gravy.

  • CMpuck

    I’d take elite talent at big money long term all day. It prevents you from overpaying busts to 5 million dollar contracts.

    Chicago is fortunate they dodge deals like Byfluglien, Saad, Versteeg, Bolland, Oduya ect…
    Over pay for the elite then trim the fat lean.

  • Gary Empey

    I don’t believe he was offered $10.5 million.

    My guess is after explaining the cap situation has changed the league, he was offered $8 million or less, with $3.5 in guaranteed endorsements, to get up to the $10.5 million.

    Something big happened to have him suddenly change his mind about free agency.

    It doesn’t make sense to sign with Tampa a few days before he hits free agency. Plenty of USA teams with tax breaks had yet to make him an offer.

    • Harte of a Lion

      It appears it was between Toronto and Tampa. Everyone believed he set up the whole free agent scenario so he could return home as the “Golden Boy” however a few minutes of Shanahan’s honesty settled the issue. It is better to grow our own stars who can deal with the pressure.

      If Stamkos #1 desire is to win a Stanley Cup, his best choice for the next 5 years is with The Lightening. In year 4 & 5 the Leafs will be the team to knock off the favorite Lightening.

  • Jason_76

    everything will be alright in september, when William actually meets and plays with matthews, and sees how non-challenging his personality is,… but a few days after toronto won the draft lottery, and Leafs acting blinded by the light of their new Sun God, I got a bad gut feeling about the lack of balance and upsetting the apple cart. why do you think nylander’s play sank after the draft lottery win, knowing he was now a supporting player? why do you think stamkos took 8 million to play hockey in the tropics, instead of 10.5 million to play in his hometown?…, when Leafs gushed about the Sun God, telling him he would be the role model and mentor of the new face of the franchise, instead himself being the face of the franchise.[no disrespect to any player, just observing how us fans can act like fanatics].

    • Jason_76

      I always wonder why everyone crucifies Nylander for not playing great every game. No one gives the kid the benefit of doubt that he might of been playing injured. You don’t go out & report injuries so maybe that’s the way Lou would be running the Leafs now. No wonder the Leafs have a tough time keeping their prospects confidence high with the media & fans.

  • Jason_76

    I know a lot of people on here are in the camp of “glad we dodged that bullet” and I agree. However, it’s not so much about the money issue with me that I’m in agreement with. It’s a valid point from the cap perspective and I’m not playing that down. The part of the article that stated that IF he was signed then most likely a couple of other moves don’t happen. The money is kind of a wash in that respect is what sticks out to me. What I find most appealing about the non-signing is it forces the commitment to do this rebuild gradually and make sure it gets done right. I don’t want the Leafs to fall back into the mentality of rushing things and the failed policies of the past.The splashy free agent signing/quick fix that hasn’t worked.

    I look at teams like Chicago and Pittsburgh who went through the pain, did it right, supplemented with the UFA’s and have maintained success. You can have a beautiful house but it isn’t worth a damn if the foundation is sand.

  • Jason_76

    the fourth period is like eklund. a joke and always wrong. speculations out of their a**. they’re not taken seriously and if you want to be taken seriously, stop reporting on nonsense and idiot topics. stamkos is a not a topic of discussion anymore. who cares. it does piss me off that that money went to scrubs like polak and martin, specifically a plug like martin who got 4 years and $10 million. jesus christ that’s terrible.

    • Jason_76

      Stamkos would have been another gift just like getting first pick was. It didn’t happen for whatever reason. The Leafs spent the money elsewhere. I seriously think Stamkos mislead the Leafs and that he’s isn’t the brightest light. He risked permanent injury and no contract only to sign with the same team and a coach that has misplayed him. Not the sharpest knife in the drawer but what’s done is done. Move on, continue with the rebuild.