Steven Stamkos’ discussions with the Tampa Bay Lightning continue to drag on, meaning rumors about the restricted free agent winding up elsewhere keep churning. So we may as well jump on the pile, right?
Philadelphia’s been hotly linked to Stamkos, should the star restricted free agent not find a deal to his liking in Tampa — at last report, the Lightning had an offer of five years and $37 million on the table. There are basically two ways Stamkos could wind up leaving Tampa: One, the Lightning decide they can’t sign him or afford to keep him, so they deal his rights elsewhere; and two, some team swoops in with an offer that Tampa can’t afford to match.
Could the Red Wings get in position to do the latter? It’s possible, however extremely unlikely.
As things stand right now, Detroit’s got a little more than $7 million to work with under the salary cap and a backup goalie left to sign, so they should wind up around the $6-million window. But there are two pieces the Wings could send packing if they wanted to free up some space — Jiri Hudler ($2.875 million) and Valterri Filppula ($3 million). Dumping that pair would put the Wings at close to $12 free with two forward spots to fill.
One could go to Kris Draper — or a similarly-priced veteran — leaving a good $11 million available. That’s just $1.8 million below the maximum allowable yearly contract in the NHL.
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Trading Hudler, probably to a team stretching for the cap floor, and Filppula would put Detroit in position to toss a huge contract Stamkos’ way, one Tampa would have issues matching. The Lightning already have $7.73 million committed to Vincent Lecavalier for the next eight years, plus more than $10 million combined tagged for Martin St. Louis and Ryan Malone through 2014-15. That’s part of the reasons Tampa GM Steve Yzerman is trying to find something both fair and reasonable for Stamkos.
But Detroit could swoop in with a couple of different looks if you take out the Hudler/Filppula contracts. One is a massive one-year deal, throwing whatever’s left under the cap at Stamkos — in this case, as we’ve covered, about $11 million. That’s more than $3 million more than what the Lightning are offering per year.
Detroit’s also got cap room going forward (though some of it is likely reserved for attempts to re-sign Brad Stuart and Nik Kronwall), right now with just $34.9 million set aside for 13 contracts next season, according to CapGeek.com. So the Wings could also come in with a pitch similar to the one Philadelphia was rumored to be considering, something of the very long-term variety — say, 10 years and $100 million with a front-loaded deal.
The big questions in either scenario: Would the Wings really pay a player $3 million more than what Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg or Nicklas Lidstrom will earn in 2011-12? How difficult would it be to move Hudler/Filppula after landing Stamkos, when teams know Detroit’s desperate to shed contracts? And how big a risk would it be to enter the season with no money to spend under the cap?
There’s also the consideration of what it would cost going forward: likely four first-round picks.
Detroit’s been very careful with its contracts, so it’s hard to envision the organization breaking the bank for one player. Under our pie-in-the-sky scenario, though, he’s what you’d be looking at for an NHL roster, with just a backup goalie role to fill (again, thanks to CapGeek.com):
Henrik Zetterberg ($6.083m) / Pavel Datsyuk ($6.700m) / Johan Franzen ($3.954m)
Todd Bertuzzi ($1.937m) / Steven Stamkos ($10.500m) / Daniel Cleary ($2.800m)
Tomas Holmstrom ($1.875m) / Darren Helm ($0.912m) / Patrick Eaves ($1.200m)
Jan Mursak ($0.550m) / Justin Abdelkader ($0.787m) / Cory Emmerton ($0.533m)
/ Drew Miller ($0.837m) / Kris Draper ($1.000m)
Nicklas Lidstrom ($6.200m) / Brad Stuart ($3.750m)
Jonathan Ericsson ($3.250m) / Niklas Kronwall ($3.000m)
Ian White ($2.875m) / Mike Commodore ($1.000m)
Jakub Kindl ($0.883m)
Jimmy Howard ($2.250m)
CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter)
(these totals are compiled without the bonus cushion)
SALARY CAP: $64,300,000; CAP PAYROLL: $62,879,544; BONUSES: $0
CAP SPACE (22-man roster): $1,420,456
The possibility of this actually happening is about as low as you can get. But it’s definitely doable — and if you’re the Red Wings, wouldn’t you want to at least consider rolling that lineup out there next season?