Steven Stamkos Could End Up Playing In Canada. Or Close To It.

Steven Stamkos Could End Up Playing In Canada.  Or Close To It.&h=235&w=320&zc=1

There have been Steven Stamkos trade rumors on a weekly basis for the past couple of years. Ever since it became apparent that the Tampa Bay Lightning weren’t planning to ‘break the bank’ to resign the 26 year old goal scoring machine he’s been linked to every team this side of the KHL. The emergence of their talented young players have only heightened this talk.

But it’s getting serious now. If they don’t re-sign Stamkos before the February 29 trade deadline they’re starting at the possibility of him becoming an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Should that happen, he could walk without the Lightning even getting a sincere goodbye in return. No team wants that to happen. For that reason, there’s more Stamkos trade talk now and for no other reason than timing it should be taken seriously. Most recently, Stamkos dropped this comment at the end of an answer to a question about his ‘no trade’ clause: “The trade deadline is coming up in a couple weeks. I’m sure everyone will have some answers in a couple weeks when that comes.”

So where does Stamkos end up:

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS: This has been one of the more persistent rumors ever since the middle of last season. It makes sense for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being that Stamkos is a local (Markham, Ontario). Plus the Leafs have a never satisfied fan base to keep happy through their rebuilding process, a ton of money and a well respected coach in Mike Babcock that Stamkos would no doubt love to play for. But for some reason it seems less and less likely. Maybe because if it were going to happen it would have happened before now. Plus the Leafs don’t have much to give up in return–at least nothing that Tampa would want and have been actively shedding payroll. Then again, signing a guy like Stamkos is what teams shed payroll for in the first place.

MONTREAL CANADIENS: This has become a popular rumor over the but probably because the Canadiens’ fanbase can’t fathom of a player *not* wanting to wear the bleu, blanc et rouge. The Habs need to keep their fanbase happy but that’s not going to happen until Carey Price gets back in net. Lots of reasons this won’t happen–it’s the same high pressure media situation as Toronto but throw in a language barrier.

BUFFALO SABRES: Buffalo has emerged as the front runner in the Stamkos Derby–at least according to the highly respected Bob McKenzie of TSN. Buffalo has many of the upsides of playing in Toronto for Stamkos–he’d be close to home–without the downsides of the more critical media, the weaker Canadian dollar and the higher expectations. Sabres putting a nice team together but all of that young talent will need to get paid soon. But if that’s where Stamkos wants to go then everyone will find a way to make it happen.

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