On Friday, Steven Stamkos can sign with any NHL team he chooses. But according to the oddsmakers at one online sportsbook, the team he’s most likely to choose is the one he’s already on.
Bovada has the Tampa Bay Lightning at +120 to re-sign Stamkos, which means a $100 wager would potentially return $120.
After the Bolts, it’s the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs, both at +275. The Buffalo Sabres are next at +800, followed by the Montreal Canadiens at +1200 and the Vancouver Canucks at +2200.
It makes sense that the Lightning are the favorites to sign Stamkos. They want to keep him, and he wants to stay. It’s just a matter of finding a deal that works for both sides. So far, that deal hasn’t presented itself, but there’s still time.
The Lightning may also give Stamkos the best chance to win a Stanley Cup in the next year or two. Perhaps only the Canadiens could argue otherwise, as long as Carey Price stays healthy. The Red Wings could try to argue otherwise, but with that blue line of theirs, it would be tough. The Maple Leafs and Sabres would both have to sell Stamkos on what they’ve been building, and where they could go with him. The Canucks, meanwhile… well, they’re long shots for a reason.
At the end of the day, for any team that’s not the Lightning, the best way to convince Stamkos to leave Tampa Bay might be with a huge offer, the kind Steve Yzerman can’t possibly make and Stamkos would find very hard to refuse.
We’ll find out soon where he chooses. In the meantime, place your bets!