After Comcast Sports Net’s Joe Haggerty suggested the Boston Bruins might want to take a run at Steven Stamkos, the Boston airwaves have exploded with fans and talk show hosts discussing the rather intriguing possibility of signing one of the best players in the NHL – who also happens to be just 21 years old.
There is a definite upside to signing a 50-goal scorer who is arguably the best player in the league. One, he is a natural goal scorer, which is something that the Bruins lack. Two, he will score power play goals, something else that was missing all season, but most notably during the playoffs. Three, they could lock up Stamkos for the better part of the next decade and then pair him with Tyler Seguin, which will only make him a better player, or Patrice Bergeron.
Perhaps most importantly, signing Stamkos would make the Bruins one of the top franchises in the NHL through 2020 both on and off the ice. They will be top Staley Cup contenders for at least the next few years and would be marketing gold, giving an Original 6 team one of the best players of his generation in his prime.
Of course, there are some negatives to signing Stamkos. An 8-year, $64 million deal would likely mean the Bruins would say goodbye to David Krejci after next season (possibly Tuukka Rask as well) as re-signing those guys will be close to impossible unless the cap number rises significantly under the new CBA.
It is possible that a Stamkos signing could mean the end of Brad Marchand as well. Marchand will be looking for $3 million a year, and signing Stamkos and Marchand would put the Bruins dangerously close to the cap with some empty spots to fill.
Signing Stamkos would also limit other moves the Bruins could make, meaning guys like Jordan Caron, Ryan Spooner, Steve Kampfer, Matt Bartkowski and others may be making larger contributions than expected. This may be a good thing, as many of these guys might be ready to be regular contributors in the NHL.
Lastly, Stamkos gives the Bruins a weapon to combat Pittsburgh with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, Washington with Alex Ovechkin, and (if realignment puts the Red Wings in the East) Detroit with Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg et al. Everyone saw what the talented (and healthy) Red Wings did to the Bruins in back-to-back games last season.
It’s an interesting dilemma. The safe bet is to stay pat, sign Marchand, a decent defenseman, maybe Chris Drury and let the young guys fill in. Sometimes, however, the safest move is not always the right move, and being cautious has led many GMs to an early exit.