The Best Landing Spots For Steven Stamkos

Photo: Andrew Fielder | Inside The Rink

Tampa Bay Lightning legend Steven Stamkos will hit free agency for the first time on July 1st. The two-time Stanley Cup winner is in unfamiliar territory, as the 34-year-old can decide where he finishes his career. While many teams would love an elite goal-scoring threat on their roster, it will boil down to where Stamkos feels the most comfortable. Here are five potential landing spots for the former Rocket Richard Trophy winner (x2):

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Tampa Bay Lightning

It’s hard to picture Stamkos in another sweater. Stamkos has spent his entire career, over 1000 games, with Tampa. He IS the Tampa Bay Lightning. Stamkos has 555 goals and 582 assists in a Lightning uniform. That’s a lot of goals, assists, points, and history, which can’t be easily ignored. Tampa only has 5.3 million in cap space, and Stamkos’ cap hit last season was 8.5 million, so something has to give. Does Stamkos take a discount to finish his career where it started? Unless Julien BriseBois and the Lightning front office get creative with the salary cap, that’s exactly what it will take. This is still the most likely scenario in my eyes.

Toronto Maple Leafs

If there was another sweater that Stamkos may want to wear, it’s the Leafs blue and white. Stamkos grew up just outside of Toronto in Markham, Ontario, and although we haven’t seen him in Leafs pajamas like John Tavares, the idea might make sense to Stamkos. The Leafs will have to do some cap maneuvering to fit Stamkos’ contract into the fold with only 18.8 million in cap space and help on defense the priority. Still, he could stick it to the Lightning by joining a division rival with an amazing young core of Auston Matthews, William Nylander, and Mitch Marner (for now). He wouldn’t have to be THE man in Toronto, and the possibility that he helps bring a cup to Toronto would make him a hometown hero in Ontario forever.

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Boston Bruins

The Bruins are another division rival of the Lightning that would love nothing more than to pluck the sniper away from Tampa. Boston has made no secret that GM Don Sweeney is looking for goal-scoring and a center (or two). Stamkos fills both of those needs. The Bruins have a great culture that the 34-year-old would fit into seamlessly. Stamkos’ offensive prowess would take pressure off of David Pastrnak while adding another weapon to a powerplay that struggled at points throughout the season. The right-shot center could slide nicely into Patrice Bergeron’s bumper spot on the powerplay for the Bruins and interchange with Pastrnak on the left-wing, one-timer spot, which would give the Bruins another look and some versatility. The Bruins have money to spend with almost 22 million in cap space, so if Stamkos is feeling vengeful the Bruins make for an interesting option.

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Detroit Red Wings

Detroit GM Steve Yzerman was in Tampa with Stamkos for much of his career and is intimately familiar with the player. Would Stamkos go to Detroit? To play for Yzerman’s Red Wings, the answer is yes. Stamkos could add some goal-scoring punch to a Red Wing squad that needs more quality offensive options in their top six. The Wings have over 29 million dollars to spend, are also in the division with Tampa, and are on the upswing. Detroit narrowly missed the playoffs last year. Stamkos could help put Detroit over the top and into the playoffs for the first time since 2016, when ironically, they lost to Stamkos and the Lightning in the first round (4 games to 1).

Utah (Formerly Arizona Coyotes)

Utah has more cap space than any team in the league, with over 43.5 million dollars to spend. The new owner in Utah wants to make a splash, and Stamkos is the splashiest name in free agency. To convince Stamkos to go to a rebuild, he’ll have to get PAID, and Utah can afford to do it. Utah has a young, talented core that could use a veteran leader with the cache and experience of Steven Stamkos. His signing would immediately give credibility to Utah, which is trying to put the Arizona Coyotes situation in the rearview mirror as quickly as possible. Is it likely? Not at all, but money talks, and Utah has the most salary cap space in the NHL to give Stamkos a whale of a contract and make it a more difficult decision than it may seem to say no.

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
  1. We Got The Jack
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