He was coming home to Toronto, that much was certain.
But then actually he was going to where he would be the undisputed number one center, in Detroit.
For real though, he was actually going to play with Buffalo’s young stars for astrological amounts of cash.
Instead he stayed put, as Bob McKenzie announced today that Steven Stamkos had re-signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Stamkos’s deal with TB is expected to come in at eight years, with an AAV of $8.5M.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 29, 2016
No, it’s not a sign-and-trade, despite what searching the #LeafsNation, #Sabres or #RedWings hashtags online might say.
The biggest potential UFA to hit the market in years didn’t even make it to July 1st.
It’s no secret the Wings were all in on Stamkos. After moving the Datsyuk contract at the draft, that much was clear. So with news breaking today and less than 48 hours to retool the approach, what direction do they head from here?
WHAT’S LEFT ON THE MARKET?
As a team who could use some solid assets, decent picks and some retooling to a mediocre line up, there really isn’t much out there for the Red Wings except mistakes waiting to be made. Keep an eye on the site in the coming days with a full breakdown of potential targets, but it doesn’t take a TSN Insider to see these guys from the Wings perspective situation.
Milan Lucic and Andrew Ladd are both rumoured to be in the $6M-per-year range even though they’ve both put their best days behind them.
Loui Eriksson is coming off his 5th 60+ point season and seeking similar dollars but worst of all for the Red Wings, he’s looking for term:
Loui Eriksson and #bruins are not close to a deal. They’re not close on terms (length) and it looks like he’ll hit the market July 1st.
— Renaud Lavoie (@renlavoietva) June 23, 2016
Kyle Okposo is likely the hottest commodity on the market.
But with a ton of interest from many teams, we’re likely going to see the contract get way bigger than Detroit should be willing to pay for the 28-year-old (sadly, the youngest of the crop).
Ladd, Frans Nielsen and Eric Staal are all 30+ years old while Lucic is 28 but has played the game like a Dothraki warrior for his entire career.
David Backes is just more of the same at 32 in human years, but he might as well be 107 in hockey ones.
None of these guys are bad players, not at all.
All of them have some sort of offensive skillset and won’t be dragging their teammates down.
Backes’ leadership would do wonders in many rooms, Lucic would jump in front of a bus for a teammate, Eriksson is going to be the perfect addition to a team near the top of their division looking for some consistent scoring to finally make that push.
The Detroit Red Wings, quite simply, are not any of those teams.
The Detroit Red Wings are not a contender, and that eliminates a few UFAs already.
The Wings are not turning the corner on their rebuild so the potential allure of winning soon isn’t there either.
At the same time though, Detroit isn’t wasting any prime years of a franchise player who only comes around every so often. None of these pressures are pushing the Wings hand in free agency. You have a few gems in your system (Larkin, Mrazek, Mantha, Bertuzzi, Svechnikov, Russo) and your veterans put their best days behind them years ago.
The only bargaining chip the Wings really could have is spending more money than other teams are willing to do. If they’re getting a free agent with a number of options available to him and in high demand, they’re almost certainly going to be overspending.
The Wings missed out on Stamkos and it hurts.
You can’t even count the number of times Holland referred to not being able to win without stars in the lineup at his post-season press conference. The Red Wings need a star player, as they’re currently without one.
Holland was gunning for a new face of the franchise, a smooth transition from a post-Datsyuk lineup and it was potentially about 40 hours away from being a reality, if it was ever going to happen. The team had the cap space to do it, and even if it wouldn’t have turned the Wings around immediately, it certainly would’ve helped accelerate their future.
The Detroit Red Wings are a worse team on paper than they were when the season ended, and they already weren’t great to begin with. Moves need to be made to improve this team. Anyone can tell that.
But the facts are facts, after today’s news:
Steven Stamkos is not, and probably never will be a Detroit Red Wing.
Milan Lucic is not as good as or worth as much money as Steven Stamkos. The same is true with Frans Nielsen, Loui Eriksson, Kyle Okposo or anyone else on the UFA list. There was one superstar potentially available, and now he’s gone. .
Don’t toss your money at any one of the UFAs out there expecting to get production levels of Steven Stamkos: it’s simply not going to happen.