Free Agent Time

Friday at the draft Ken Holland pulled off a fantastic trade that I never thought possible. He traded away Pavel Datsyuk’s contract to the Arizona Coyotes along with the #16 pick to get Joe Vitale (who will be put on LTIR next year) the #20 pick as well as #53 in the 2nd round. He gave up nothing and got a 2nd rounder to boot. Wow. The rumors were Anthony Mantha being asked for (and some stupid fans on twitter saying they’d have done it to move Pavel’s contract for one year), and the most sensible ones were Tomas Jurco or Teemu Pulkkinen and maybe a 2nd round pick with one of them to sweeten the deal. None of that happened. He gave up no one off the roster and gained a 2nd rounder, not give one up. Masterful job by Ken Holland and that freed up money to go after some free agent…most notably, Steven Stamkos.

Steven Stamkos could hit the market on July 1st at 26 years old. Talents like him never hit the market anymore. Crosby, Malkin, Kane, Toews, will all be between 34-36 when their contracts expire. The Red Wings are in need of a top line center and he fits the bill. The Wings can probably offer $10-11mil per year on a 7-year deal. The problem is, other teams can do the same. Toronto, Buffalo and others are rumored to be in the mix. They all have positives and they all have negatives about the situations in those markets and with all being able to offer pretty big money, it will come down to what Stamkos thinks is the best situation for him. There is still the chance he ends up going back to Tampa Bay. The Lightning can offer what others teams can’t and that’s an 8th year. They can only offer about $8.5mil per season, since they want to keep their team together as much as possible, but having no state income tax in Florida pretty much balances that out. For instance, per (capfriendly.com) after taxes the Wings offer of $10mil comes to about $5.4mil while the Tampa offer of $8.5mil comes to $5.1mil after taxes. So much for $1.5mil more from the Wings huh? The longer this goes however, the less likely I think it is he stays with Tampa Bay. When the market opens at noon on Friday, the advantage of the 8th year goes out the window, and Tampa can only offer 7 years like the rest of the teams.

Since the chance of the Wings signing Stamkos might be small, the question then comes….what is plan B? There are other free agents out there. Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen, Milan Lucic, Andrew Ladd, David Backes and others. But are they worth the deals they will be asking for and possibly getting? I don’t think so. Okposo might be ok but he’s only broken 24 goals once in his career. Is that worth $6mil a year for 5-6 years? Why not just wait it out and let the kids play and see where it goes? Lucic has nice size but his numbers have been dropping the last few years and again somewhere around $6mil per worth it if it doesn’t work out? My plan B is to examine the trade market and see how to improve on defnse and then let the kids get their shot. It saves you the cap space for improving down the line. You really don’t need to go to the cap every year.

I’m excited/anxious about Friday. I’d love to be able to “celebrate” Steven Stamkos coming to Detroit but I’m anxious that they’ll overpay for an Okposo or Ladd and won’t actually improve that much. We’ll see…..

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