Does Stamkos Make Sense for Buffalo?

The Sabres’ rebuilding seems near complete. While the Sabres didn’t succeed in terms of being a playoff team, but they put a good product on the ice and NHL fans all over the continent now recognize the potential that this Buffalo squad has. With the GM Tim Murray’s high level of activity on the market in the past two years, rumors of Buffalo trading for Tampa Bay’s prolific forward Steven Stamkos accelerated this year. Tampa will have to make drastic changes to their lineup in order to find room to resign the 26 year-old from Toronto, who reportedly wants to move closer to home.

One of the reasons the Sabres have been linked to the Canadian is his alleged is the close proximity to Toronto desire to move closer to home, and the fact the Sabres are two years further into their rebuilding process. Further, the Sabres do have the cap room to sign Stamkos, who is asking $10 million per year. We can sign him easily with no problems, right? Wrong. The Sabres roster is burgeoning with young players – who will improve and need to be paid more money. There’s no telling how much money Murray will need to dish out to Eichel or Sam Reinhart a few years down the road. Besides, Stamkos is asking for more money than Ovechkin and Crosby are, and Toews and Kane both recently signed 8-year contracts for $84 million, and that’s after three Stanley Cups. Stamkos has won zero.

In order to make room, someone will have to leave, likely either Tyler Ennis or Evander Kane. Ennis has had a rough year, coming back from injury and then getting injured again. Kane was also injured for a few weeks, but he came back and brought a priceless attitude with tenacity and aggressiveness, but he also did some dumb things on the ice. Half the time he would hog the puck down the wing and just take a terrible shot at the goalie’s chest. But there was that time where he sacrificed an empty netter in front of his old team in Winnipeg to pass to assist Sam Reinhart on his first NHL hat-trick.

It doesn’t make sense for Buffalo to jeopardize its well-managed cap for a player who isn’t as good defensively and on faceoffs as O’Reilly. Besides, Stamkos has been sidelined all spring with a blood-clot, and Tampa has played phenomenal in the playoffs thus far, basically skating over Washington, the team that many predicted to hold the Cup I would argue that the Sabres’ biggest priority during the offseason would be to shop for a defenseman or two. They will most certainly come cheaper than Stamkos and would have more to offer as a team. Stamkos’ individual talent is off the charts, but he may not make sense as a team-move. He would be easily the highest paid player on the roster and would probably become a new leader on the team. 

Under whose leadership would the team be under then moving forward? Eichel's? O’Reilly's? Signing Stamkos would be putting all of the eggs in his basket. This entire season was a year for the young squad to mesh and build chemistry, which was clearly evident especially with Eichel and Reinhart towards the end of the year. The team’s balance would be completely thrown off while creating a cap situation that would look worse than the Bills’ does. Tim Murray has created a neat rebuilding process that is starting to come together without any mess. It would be a crime for him to ruin that, and I have a feeling that Murray too feels at peace with this roster with how quiet this trade deadline was compared to previous years.