Two substantial restricted free agents remain both unsigned and susceptible to an offer sheet: Steven Stamkos and Drew Doughty. They were drafted first and second overall, respectively, in the 2008 draft and are asking for big raises this summer. Carolyn and I debate which of these superstars in the making we’d give an offer sheet to if we were an NHL general manager. Disclaimer: We are not stating that Stamkos and Doughty will be changing teams. This is purely hypothetical.
Steven Stamkos By Carolyn Christians
What is it worth to have a franchise forward who, though just 21, has proven he will be a superstar in the NHL for years to come? Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman has been trying to answer that question for months now. Talk about good news, bad news.
Supply and demand for players like Stamkos is not the same as for goaltenders like Tomas Vokoun; there are several teams out there who could make a play for Stamkos and change the immediate future of their franchise. But to date, no one has done that.
Why not? Because the cost, if successful, might be as much as four first round picks – too rich for most – added in top of the contract itself. Or perhaps there is this gentlemen’s agreement among GMs that it’s simply not done.
But suppose someone did the unthinkable. Offer sheet Stamkos 6 years/$50million to expedite the climb from basement to penthouse. Imagine the Islanders challenging Brad Richards and Ilya Kovalchuk for the New York hockey audience; or Dale Tallon’s Panthers featuring EA Sports coverboy to lure NBA lockout defectors in the Miami market. Both those teams have been stockpiling the best draft picks for years. Plus: what a way to get some splashy headlines in your hometown papers – let alone dominate the puckworld’s interwebz.
Worst case? Yzerman matches, but you’ve done your team a favor too, by forcing one of the newest to the GM club to commit resources that will handcuff his ability to maneuver going forward for a few years at least.
There’s not much downside to making a play for Stamkos. Add a proven goal-scorer who has shown he is ready to lead a team to and through the post-season, or if not, keep your picks and watch Yzerman squirm to manage his salary budget for years to come. Win/Win.
Drew Doughty By Ryan Porth
I’ll go ahead and say that Stamkos is better than Doughty. However, there is an old adage that it is harder to find a top-flight defenseman than it is to get your hands on a difference-making forward. So if I had to pick one to go after with a lucrative offer sheet, I’d turn to the up-and-coming Kings defenseman.
Doughty already has a Norris Trophy nomination on his resume and has been talked up as ‘the next Scott Niedermayer’ by some pundits. Following a rocky rookie season, Doughty put up 59 points in 2009-10, along with a +20 rating. He was a big reason why the Kings snapped their playoff drought that year.
The kicker is that, like Stamkos, he is still 21 years old and has room to improve his game – which is a scary thought for Western Conference opponents. Doughty is going to be a stud blue-liner for years to come and could easily win multiple Norris Trophies in his career.
When it comes to offer sheet between Stamkos and Doughty, you have to ask yourself who is more worth it as far as compensation goes. To lure Stamkos, it would like take a contract that would require four first round picks going the other way (over $7.835M). For Doughty, it may cost two first round picks, a second and a third with a contract worth between $6.268M and $7.835M).
As I alluded to, it’s much harder to find a No. 1 defenseman than a top-line goal-scoring forward (even though Stamkos is a special talent). Doughty has a great mix of speed, vision, puck-moving ability and a rocket shot from the blue-line. It’s frightening to think that he can actually get better.
If I’m one of the 28 other GM’s around the league, I’d rather go for Doughty over Stamkos.
Our podcast 'RLD Hockey Talk' is LIVE every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 ET/Noon CT. Some of our notable guests in past episodes have been Dustin Brown, Doc Emrick, John Buccigross, Dave Strader, E.J. Hradek, Elliotte Friedman and Jay Grossman.