Steven Stamkos is the top free agent of this UFA class. He has been labeled the “big fish” by Buffalo’s GM, Tim Murray who is ready to unleash a pile of money at #91’s feet. Detroit’s GM, Ken Holland also moved retiring Pavel Datsyuk‘s contract off the books at the draft to Arizona in preparation to bid for Stamkos’ services.
We also learned at the draft that Rangers GM, Jeff Gorton may have tried to do something big with Tampa’s GM, Steve Yzerman in order to acquire the rights to negotiate with Stamkos. The Rangers are considered one of 5 destinations to land Stammer along with Montreal and Toronto. But why? Why is there so much hoopla surrounding this free agent?
It’s simple, because no one has ever seen a generational talent like Steven Stamkos on the open market at the age of 26. The right handed center is 6’1″ and 195 pounds. He has one of the best shots in the NHL, is strong and fast on his skates and won’t turn 27 until February 7th.
His career totals are 562 points in 569 regular season games with the key number being 312 goals. He has also added 35 points in 49 post season games as well. These are great numbers, but you have to realize that he is just entering his prime and is only getting better.
The Rangers have NEVER drafted a forward of this magnitude. There are some great defensemen like Brad Park and Brian Leetch in there, and goaltenders galore from John Vanbiesbrouck, Mike Richter and Henrik Lundqvist, but not a single forward the likes of a Steven Stamkos.
If you don’t believe me, look at the list for ALL NYR draft picks here and challenge me in the comments below.
No, the Rangers never have drafted and developed this kind of forward. The closest we’ve come is in trading for Mark Messier who was well into his prime years at 30. Yes, we’ve had Wayne Gretzky who was in the twilight of his career. Yes, we brought in Jaromir Jagr but he was also at the end of his prime years and we even had the Russian Rocket, Pavel Bure for a handful of games before his knees made him retire.
The fact is, the Rangers have never had this kind of forward in his prime on the roster. That is why the Rangers must move Heaven and Earth this week to free up money to get him.
When it comes to acquiring Stamkos, I have flip-flopped on the issue more than John Kerry in the 2004 Presidential Election. I have said that having to pay 2 players on your roster over 20M (between Stamkos and Lundqvist) is cap suicide, but is it?
The Penguins last year paid nearly 40 million in cap space to just 5 players (Malkin, Crosby, Kessel, Letang and Fleury). Heck, Fleury was dead cap space in the Penguins Cup winning season if we are totally honest. Yes, they did it by filling out their roster with a ton of players making about or less than 2M. So why can’t the Rangers make the same deft moves in order to replicate that recipe.
Rick Nash was brought in to bring the team over the top. Sadly, he is not the kind of impact forward that can grab a game by the throat and will a team to victory. Steven Stamkos is. The Rangers need that game-changer in their lineup and coupled with the world’s best goaltender, who knows what they could do together.
So consider this my official change of heart. If someone in the Rangers organization should by chance read this, consider this my passionate plea. Free up the money, sign him for 7 years, and give him his no move clause. The free agent of a lifetime is out there, it’s time for the Rangers to get him.