Huge news. According to Mike Colligan of The Hockey Writers and Forbes, Tampa Bay center Steven Stamkos can begin accepting offer sheets from other teams starting Friday. Tampa GM Steve Yzerman has until the end of the week to sign the young phenom who has scored 96 goals over the past two seasons.
If Stamkos accepts an offer sheet, Yzerman has seven days to match the offer. If he cannot and Stamkos accepts a deal, Tampa Bay will be compensated with a draft pick determined by Stamkos’ annual salary.
The Lightning have about $22 million in available space, but still need to sign about six forwards and two goaltenders. Stamkos’ salary would be in the neighborhood of $10 million, leaving Stevie Y about $12 million to sign 12 players, a difficult task if he expects to be competitive next season.
General Managers usually don’t send offer sheets out to other teams’ players, but a talent like Stamkos doesn’t hit the free agent market too often. Players like Sidney Crosby, Evgeny Malkin and, of course, Alex Ovechkin, are were all locked into long contracts before they ever even sniffed the open market.
This development will affect how teams, including the Rangers, go after other free agents. In the Rangers’ case, Brad Richards. Should the Rangers set its sites on Stamkos? Doing so will cost them about four first-round picks, but as I said, the level of talent Stamkos possesses doesn’t come around too often. He’s just a few years removed from being the No. 1 overall pick, and he’s shown he was more than worth it.