Steven Stamkos’ eventual signing in Tampa Bay doesn’t deter Philly’s flirtation with him

20 Comments

The most desirable restricted free agent out there, Steve Stamkos, is still left unsigned and while the Tampa Bay Lightning look to lock up their young franchise player to a long term deal, other teams continue to daydream about plucking him away in one form or another. The Flyers have been the one team that people believe is most hot after the superstar goal scorer and many are crafting scenarios in which it could work out.

With Stamkos being a restricted free agent, however, if a team was wacky enough to force the issue and sign him to an offer sheet, the Lightning would be able to match the offer and there’s little doubt, if any, that they would do that immediately. As it goes, the hopefulness in Philadelphia is unwavering as CSN Philly’s Sarah Baicker shares today.

Multiple sources have suggested to CSNPhilly that the Lightning would be interested in acquiring Brayden Schenn, Sergei Bobrovsky and a future No. 1 draft pick in exchange for Stamkos. Though Holmgren expects Stamkos will eventually re-sign with the Bolts, there are indications he is prepared to make a trade offer if it doesn’t happen.

But even after dishing those aforementioned names in order to lure Stamkos to Philly, the Flyers would still likely be forced to shed some salary in order to fit him. Would it be worth it to deal Matt Carle, say, or Scott Hartnell (both names have been mentioned in trade scenarios)? Probably not – the chances of any of this going down are still very doubtful – but not completely impossible.

It’s all drawing up ideas in a sandbox in Philly for how things could work out. But what would Tampa Bay’s interest in trading a guy who has scored 96 goals the last two seasons be? Virtually nil is our guess, but the NHL is also a league that saw Wayne Gretzky get traded so anything is possible. How are those contract negotiations going in Tampa though? The guys at The Fourth Period have their ear to the ground and say a framework for a contract is there for Stamkos.

TFP has learned that the two sides are working towards a five-year contract, though the dollar figure and salary breakdown have not yet been agreed upon.

It’s believed Stamkos will earn an average salary in the $7 million to $7.5 million range, though neither side would confirm term or numbers.

It has been widely reported that another team could swoop in and extend Stamkos an RFA offer sheet, which the 21-year-old would need to agree to and sign, though a source close to the situation said such a tactic was “unlikely.”

Adding that on top of what Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos tweeted today about there being a potential five-year deal worth $37 million being hammered out with Stamkos and you’ve got yourself a lot of pipe dreaming run amok in Philly. You can’t fault the Flyers and their fans for getting excited about the potential, but this situation with Stamkos is one that favored both the Lightning and Stamkos in that they had all summer to get something worked out without much pressure.

It would take a titanic offer to get Stamkos to potentially upset Tampa management and sign an offer sheet with another team and we’re thinking that biting the hand of GM Steve Yzerman probably isn’t something he’s eager to do. While Flyers GM Paul Holmgren has to keep dealing with the interest from fans and media alike towards Stamkos, it’s highly unlikely we’ll see Stamkos in anything other than Lightning blue for the foreseeable future.

Eddie Lack expects to be released from hospital on Monday night

3 Comments

As scary as the situation was for Carolina Hurricanes goalie Eddie Lack, the good news continues to pour in.

First, the Hurricanes provided an update that he had “full feeling in his extremities” while under observation at a hospital. This followed the promising sign that he was able to give a “thumbs up” gesture while being taken off the ice on a stretcher after the Hurricanes’ 4-3 overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings.

The best news came late on Monday night, however, as Lack himself tweeted that he expects to head back home as early as this late evening/early morning:

That’s fantastic news. Video of that scary collision with Andreas Athanasiou can be seen in the video above this post’s headline.

Blues, Flames take care of business (Islanders … do not)

Getty
Leave a comment

For a while there, it seemed like the idle Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs would be Monday’s “winners.” That changed when the Carolina Hurricanes salvaged a standings point and the Tampa Bay Lightning stormed back to beat the Blackhawks.

Still, there were some teams who came through (beyond the Lightning) and those who fell flat, so let’s cover some of the results in short.

West teams get it done

Unlike their counterparts out East, West teams jockeying for position avoided “unforced errors” in losing to non-playoff teams.

The St. Louis Blues beat the Arizona Coyotes 4-1 while the Calgary Flames topped the Colorado Avalanche 4-2. Johnny Gaudreau generated his 200th point (and 201st) in Calgary’s win, while Alex Steen generated four assists. (Vladimir Tarasenko also enjoyed a three-point night.)

This keeps the Blues and Flames in position to advance. St. Louis is one point behind the Nashville Predators for third in the Central while the Flames are a point behind both the Sharks and Oilers for second and third in the Pacific (while remaining in shouting distance of the division title).

East teams stumble, some get over it

Again, the Lightning fought through hurdles to win and the Hurricanes managed that “charity point.”

Overall, East teams struggled. The New York Islanders fell to the Predators by a score of 3-1. Your mileage may vary on the Florida Panthers’ chances, especially after they fell 4-2 to the Buffalo Sabres.

Brian Gionta scored in his 1,000th game as Buffalo won, by the way.

Here’s what the race for the final spot in the East looks like after tonight:

Final wild card: Bruins – 84 points in 75 games played

Lightning – 83 points in 75 GP
Islanders – 82 points in 75 GP
Hurricanes – 80 points in 74 GP

Victor Hedman might just force his way into the Norris argument

Getty
3 Comments

For quite some time this season, the Norris Trophy race felt a bit like “Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson and [insert token finalist].” As it turns out, Victor Hedman is making it a pretty interesting three-horse race.

With Burns and Karlsson idle on Monday, Hedman continued to go on the best offensive tear of his already-impressive career, contributing three assists to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 5-4 overtime win against the Chicago Blackhawks.

As much credit as forwards Nikita Kucherov and Jonathan Drouin deserve in pushing Tampa Bay in Steven Stamkos‘ absence, Hedman has been an all-world blueliner for a Lightning team with a defense that isn’t really surrounding him with great talent.

He’s serving as a workhorse when his team needs him the most:

Now, when you look at the numbers, it’s probably fair to say that Hedman comes in third among the likely finalists in simple categories:

Brent Burns: 27 goals (!), 72 points in 75 games, +16 rating, 24:52 time-on-ice average

Erik Karlsson: 14 goals, 67 points in 74 games, +7, 26:53 minutes per game (fourth highest average in the NHL)

Victor Hedman: 15 goals, 65 points in 72 games, +2 rating, came into Monday with average of 24:15 minutes per game.

Looking at those breakdowns, you might wonder why someone wouldn’t just flippantly hand Hedman the “bronze medal” and a pat on the back … but things get more interesting if you ponder the all-around impact of those three.

Now, traditional-thinkers who slam risky defensemen for their mistakes often overstate such arguments. Both Burns and Karlsson tilt the ice in their teams’ favors, usually to profound degrees.

Still … Hedman locks opponents down to a truly elite degree and scores at a similar rate. Hedman could very well own the “two-way” argument; you could perhaps see his case most clearly when you compare his “HERO” chart to those of Burns and Karlsson, especially from the perspective of conceding shots.

Again, Burns remains the likely winner, and he would be a deserving one. You could make a solid Hart Trophy argument for Burns, in addition to tabbing him as the Norris frontrunner.

Even so, voters would be wise to take Hedman’s case seriously, especially as the Lightning continue their improbable playoff push.

Lightning storm back against Blackhawks, finish one point out of playoffs

4 Comments

Who would have thought that the Tampa Bay Lightning would rally back from a 4-1 deficit tonight? Then again, who expected them to be so close to a playoff spot mere weeks ago, when they were sellers at the trade deadline?

The Lightning continue to show that they won’t just roll over and die, scoring four unanswered goals to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 in overtime on Monday.

While Jonathan Drouin was a catalyst for the second-period rally, it was an unlikely scorer who clinched the victory, as Yanni Gourde ended a thrilling run of 3-on-3 chances with the overtime-winner.

Really, it might have been fitting. Things looked glum when Tomas Jurco scored his first goal of the season against the Lightning, then the mood was totally flipped when Gourde’s second tally of 2016-17 grabbed a huge win.

With the Islanders losing to the Predators, the Hurricanes only managing a “loser point” against the Red Wings and the Bruins idle, Tampa Bay is a breath away from a playoff berth:

Final wild card: Bruins – 84 points in 75 games played

Lightning – 83 points in 75 GP
Islanders – 82 points in 75 GP
Hurricanes – 80 points in 74 GP

Yes, all of a sudden, a long-shot postseason run seems quite attainable.

Maybe the Lightning would prefer it if we kept counting them out, though?