Steven Stamkos to Buffalo? It’s been a hot topic as of late ever since TSN’s Bob McKenzie said that it made the most sense for Stamkos to come here. Looking at all the options, it really does make sense for Stamkos as it’s close to home, the Sabres are built to win in the next couple of years (Stamkos’ prime age) AND Terry Pegula is made of money. Stamkos honestly has little incentive to really go anywhere else.
Buffalo is a hockey city; they constantly lead the NHL in viewer percentage per game, whether it is the actual Sabres playing, or the Winter Classic, World Juniors, or Olympics. Seriously, Buffalo was 1st in ratings for all those. Plus, it’s not too far from that smelly; gross city “Toronto” that Stamkos calls his hometown. They are built to make a cup run in the next couple years. If Buffalo lands Stamkos and picks top 4 this year, they make the playoffs next year no doubt. They have a great young core which Stamkos could undoubtedly help as scoring seems to be an issue, but the sky is the limit for them as of now. And of course, Terry Pegula, Buffalo’s savior, is the owner. If Stamkos asked for 1 billion dollars, Terry would probably ask if he wanted that in 100’s or 20’s. The man wants to win, and his checkbook is open to whoever wants to bring a cup to Buffalo. Who else is built to win like Buffalo, has the owner to pay him, and is close enough to the “City of 1,000 garbage dumps” that is Toronto. But, even with all these factors, the real question is if Steven Stamkos makes sense for Buffalo.
It’s Steven Freaking Stamkos. He’s already established himself as one of the best scorers in the entire NHL; he’s hit the 60 goal plateau once, 50 goals once, and 40 goals twice. Oh yeah, and he’s only 26. He brings much needed fire power to Buffalo’s offense which, if they land Stamkos, would be incredibly potent as they already have Kane, O’Reilly, Eichel, and Reinhart. He’s already led his team to a deep cup run with Tampa, which experience is definitely something the Sabres could use as of now. He is a proven winner, and eliminates the need for players like Brian Gionta. Basically, the guy improves the team; there is no downside on the ice for having Stamkos play for your team.
You may be asking “Ayy, what could possibly be a con of having Steven Stamkos on your team?” Excellent question Fonz. For starters, where does he fit on this team? The Sabres already have 3 top centers in O’Reilly, Eichel, and Reinhart (who is already playing on the wing.) I mean you could put O’Reilly on the wing, as he has played it in the past, but he’s such a dominant center offensively and defensively, why would you? Not to mention he’s getting paid a ton of money to do just that. (7.5 Million/Yr.) What happens with the identity of the team? Who gets the C? Stamkos is the captain in Tampa, Ryan O’Reilly is the leader here, and you have Jack Eichel, the 19 year old phenom who will be the face of this team for years. Does Stamkos take a backseat? It’s been shown that doesn’t work that well since it happened with the “Triplet line” as his production dropped significantly. Or, does he push Eichel and O’Reilly down and take over? For the term that Stamkos will want, it brings up a lot of questions. Speaking of terms, the contract is a HUGE downside. Stamkos will be at/around the 10 million dollar mark. Which is fair for the kind of player he is, but Buffalo has some big contracts coming up, as well as some big ones already on the books. Eichel, Reinhart, Ristolainen will be looking for some big money in the next few years as will Evander Kane, while O’Reilly and Kane himself have a heavy contract right now. Working in Stamkos could hurt more than help. And Stamkos’ production has certainly dropped after he broke his leg in 2013. Stamkos pre/post broken leg: Goals/gm: 0.65/0.52 Pts/gm: 1.16/0.88 SOG/gm: 3.54/3.15 [Excluding his rookie year]. It’s a pretty significant drop off from the old Stamkos, and should raise a couple red flags before you dish out 10 million for presumably 8+ years.
Whatever the case may be, Steven Stamkos is a great player and will likely do very well wherever he goes, if anywhere, and although Buffalo looks great from Stamkos’ point of view, Buffalo should be a little weary. If this was 2 years ago when Buffalo didn’t have Eichel, Reinhart, or Ryan O’Reilly I would’ve given my left arm and first born child to have Stamkos even consider Buffalo, but now we have the option to pass, which even though it would be tough to do and would be completely justified.