The Detroit Red Wings have rid themselves of the Pavel Datsyuk cap hit and are now up and running in the race for Steven Stamkos. Buffalo, Boston, Florida, New York (Rangers), Toronto and of course Tampa Bay are the other most likely places he’ll end up.
But for me, the Detriot Red Wings are the best fit for the 26 year old sniper from Markham, Ontario.
Some major players don’t feel this will be about money, as per Twitter:
Geography was mentioned in this tweet as well, naturally because the quote is from the Buffalo GM, but there’s a lot to be said about being close to home. We’ve been hearing that argument out of Toronto for the last 8 months. Detroit isn’t far from Markham either.
So Detroit has the money and the location, but what can this team really offer? They squeaked into the playoffs on the final day and were washed away in a 5 game first round, and by Stamkos’s current team no less. Why in the world would he pick the Wings?
I said it last year and I’ll say it again. There are only three reasons Detroit didn’t win the Stanley Cup last year. One of them is obviously the Pittsburgh Penguins, and I don’t just mean because they did win. I mean because them winning was a forgone inevitability. If you want to know one person that did project the Penguins winning the cup, you’re reading him right now.
This is my magnetic playoff bracket board as filled out the night of game 1, round 1(does my brother know what to get me for my birthday or what?). Nobody was beating Pittsburgh. The West didn’t even matter to me. Anyone who had to meet Pittsburgh early on didn’t really matter to me. So what does this have to do with Detroit and Steven Stamkos? Well, the answer also lies on this board. The only corner of the whole playoffs that mattered featured both of the relevant teams. It was pretty much predetermined that whoever won between Detroit and Tampa was going to have a clear cakewalk to the Eastern Conference Finals where they would eventually lose to the Penguins. As exciting as the playoffs were, that’s what was going to happen.
So in order to get reasons two and three of why Detroit didn’t win the cup, we need to look at what held the Wings back in that series. 2)a strong possession power play that lacked a scoring touch, and 3)a patient, lane driving net attack that created a ton of open shooting chances but missed the net more than hit it. At one point in the series I said “if the game was won and lost on walking through the slot and missing the net, give Detroit the Cup right now.”
That 5 game series maybe didn’t have the best hockey for small spurts, but it was easily the most entertaining start to finish. With total series goals at 12-8 for Tampa and three of the four Detroit losses by one goal, the power play became the focal point of the whole series. Tampa’s was on when it mattered. Detroit’s was not.
When you look at the other contenders for Stamkos listed above, none of them is as deep through 4 lines as Detroit except for Pittsburgh. Hell, no team is as deep through 8 or 9 lines as Detroit. I mean, they’ve built so smartly for the last 20 years that they’re the only team in the league who year after year can be labelled as both a veteran team that might be too old to compete and a young, fast, up and coming team all at the same time. Every other team on the list can be labelled young, up and coming (Florida, Buffalo, Toronto) or a veteran team that might be too old to compete (Boston, NYR). Detroit checks another box. Plus, the style they play is all about puck support and creating shooting windows. No other team has consistently smart positional players who know how to create passing seams. Not even Pittsburgh. All Detroit is missing is a marquee sharp shooter(this is where Stamkos comes in).
Honestly, the only other team mentioned on the list that suits number 91 in a similar way is….the Tampa Bay Lightning. They’re not too young, not too old. Their power play is all about cross seam. And 5 on 5, Jonathan Drouin can find guys better than almost anyone. But 5 on 5 he’s pretty much the only one who does it consistently. If Stamkos wants to be a power play specialist on a contending but streaky team and he’s happy with the money, he should stay in Tampa.
But again, chasing the Pittsburgh championship model, Stamkos could fit on any of three lines in Detroit much like Kessel did. Add to everything else a new arena, a relatively pressure free market, and an annual guarantee of a playoff spot, and it all adds up to the best case for leaving the Bolts that any team could make.