Remember about a month ago when I wrote about the idea of the Red Wings acquiring super-star Steven Stamkos from the Tampa Bay Lightning? I theorized that it would make sense for Detroit to offer up Tomas Tatar, Jakub Kindl, Andreas Athanasiou, and a first round draft pick to Tampa for Stamkos. It wasn’t the most popular or widely-received idea I’ve ever thrown out there, but the numbers made sense.
Now, the Stamkos-to-Detroit idea might be catching on in some hockey circles. In a bold prediction for 2016, “The Hockey News” writer Ken Campbell says that the Lightning will re-sign Stamkos, then immediately trade him… to Detroit.
While it’s been no secret across the league that Stamkos hasn’t exactly seen eye to eye with Lightning upper management – and that he’s an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year – things seem to have at least simmered down in Tampa, for the time being. There’s still a really large elephant in the room in Tampa though – he’s an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. While sign-and-trade deals don’t happen very often in hockey, this is the perfect opportunity for that kind of deal. It’s going to cost a lot to pry Stamkos from the hands of the Lightning, and with his contract expiring at the end of this year, whatever team ultimately ends up acquiring Stamkos would like to have some long term security with him after mortgaging a fair amount of talent.
Campbell’s idea not only involves Stamkos, but the third-overall pick in the 2013 draft, Jonathan Drouin. The 20-year old, who requested a trade from Tampa before the season began, is in an awkward situation. He has tremendous upside, but has so far struggled to make a splash in the NHL. In 128 QMJHL games, he racked up 241 points. He has yielded just 38 points in his 89 game NHL career so far though, and was recently demoted to the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL.
So, what would it cost to land these two in a package deal? Campbell says it won’t be cheap, as we could have probably guessed. In this hypothetical situation, Stamkos first signs an eight-year $84 million extension with Tampa (exactly like the deals that Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews got from the Chicago Blackhawks). Then, along with Drouin, Stamkos is traded to Detroit in exchange for Gustav Nyquist, pending restricted free agents Riley Sheahan and Alexey Marchenko, prospect forward Anthony Mantha, plus the Red Wings’ first round picks in 2016 and 2017. Wow, that’s a lot, right?
Yes, that price tag is high. Really high, actually. But, would it make sense? Yes, it would.
Nyquist is coming off a 27-goal season in 2014, and has somewhat stumbled this season. Sheahan has 72 points in 163 career games, and has embraced a grinder/front-of-the-net role. Marchenko has been an ultra-dependable defender in his 33 games in Detroit this season. Mantha has had a bit of a struggle translating his game to the pro ranks, even drawing comments from Senior Vice President Jim Devellano as saying his first year was “very, very, very disappointing”.
If this trade were to happen, the Wings would lose the three current roster players (Nyquist, Sheahan, Marchenko). Drouin and Stamkos would obviously jump straight into the lineup though, replacing the two forwards. Losing Marchenko might make some uncomfortable, but we can’t forget that Ryan Sproul and Xavier Ouellet are both continuing to over-ripen in Grand Rapids, and either would be ready to make the jump to the NHL. An aging Pavel Datsyuk would also be given some flexibility in the lineup, and could potentially take a role on the third line.
The money makes sense. Eight years at $84 million for Stamkos would be $10.5 million a year. Sheahan, Marchenko, and Nyquist combine for a $6.366 million cap hit, and that’s before Sheahan and Marchenko get their RFA raises after this year. If Kyle Quincey is not brought back after this season, another $4.25 million is freed up, giving you the money to cover the Stamkos deal. Drouin is still under his entry-level contract with a cap-hit of $894,166, meaning that not bringing back Joakim Andersson after this season would leave the space to cover Drouin’s pact.
While it seems quite bold, it would also have to be considered quite a long shot for this deal to happen. But, is this the year that general manager Ken Holland makes a bold move to put the Red Wings in category of “contender”? Let’s hope it is, because this deal would not only make the Red Wings a contender this year, but possibly for a very long time.