Sky is the limit for Stamkos
Free agency begins July 1, and Tampa Bay superstar Steven Stamkos, a restricted free agent, remains unsigned.
If anyone wants to bid on the 21-year-old high-scoring wunderkind, it’s probably a moot point because the Lightning retain the right to match any offer (similar to the Phil Kessel situation a couple of years ago).
But, boy, could someone drive up the price on owner Jeffrey Vinik if general manager Steve Yzerman doesn’t get a deal done in the next two weeks.
With the salary cap expected to be close to $63 million, a bidder could spike Stamkos’s pay as high as $12 million-plus per year (20 percent of the max is the limit). And for a kid who is only 21, a 10- or 12-year deal would not be out of the question.
For discussion’s sake, let’s say someone offered Stamkos 12 years at $144 million. He would be only 33 at the end of the deal. Come the end of the 2022-23 season, if the cap were to climb at the rate it has since it began at $39 million in 2005-06, the nut would be hovering right around $100 million by then. Over the final 5-6 years of the deal, $12 million would begin to look comfortable.
As for the Bolts, what would they receive if they chose not to match? Perhaps not as much as you think.
Per CBA compensation rules, any player who receives an offer above $7,835,219 brings the maximum package in return: four first-round draft picks.
Provided the addition of Stamkos turns a team into an elite contender, those four picks, one per year, likely would net the Bolts a player in the 22-30 range each year.
In other words, no guarantee that any of them eventually will make an NHL roster.
All in all, it’s typically not a play general managers are eager to make. However, Stamkos is so young and such an unusual unique commodity, you can bet at least a handful of GMs are considering that kind of package for him.