Everybody Loves Steven

That's the face of a man who is about to make a lot of money.

It’s June 28 and Steven Stamkos doesn’t have a new contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning yet. The thought of him going to July 1 without a contract has the whole league whipping out their wallets.

Stamkos has received a qualifying offer from the Lightning so they’ll be given the opportunity to match any offer he sees. According to Nick Kypreos and Scoop Du Jour on Yahoo! Sports the Lightning and Stamkos are still far apart on the terms of the new contract.

However, it doesn’t really seem possible that Stamkos could be allowed to walk.

Why would the Tampa Bay Lightning give up one of the best goal-scorers in the game? According to CapGeek, the team has 15 players signed and $21.8 million in cap space. They could easily give Stamkos half of that money if they needed to and still ice a relatively competitive team. And it probably won’t take $11 million to sign Stamkos.

Unless some offer sheets come floating over of course.

There are already rumours that the Philadelphia Flyers want to take a run at Stamkos. Frank Seravalli at Philly.com believes that the team is clearing up cap space in order to extend an offer sheet to Steven Stamkos. That seems pretty unlikely but, after what the Flyers did last week, nothing seems impossible anymore.

Right now the Flyers have 19 players signed and $6.7 million in cap space. That’s clearly not enough to get Stamkos signed. A $7 million offer sheet would definitely be matched by the Lightning. The Flyers could trade someone else (like Kris Versteeg) but you’d have to assume that they plan to re-sign Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds, which will take some cap space.

It just doesn’t seem realistic for Philadelphia, even if they say goodbye to Daniel Carcillo.

Would anyone else toss an offer sheet at Stamkos? There are a few teams who have more cap space than the Lightning, but none of them seem like realistic destinations. The New York Rangers will likely focus on Brad Richards instead and most other teams have some sort of financial issue that will prevent them from throwing big money at free agents.

We’re surprised that the Leafs haven’t come up more often when discussing Stamkos. That’s not because him going to Toronto would actually be possible, but because there isn’t an impending free agent that isn’t somehow connected to the Leafs by fans and media.

The bottom line is that the Lightning want to keep Stamkos and unless an insane offer sheet comes their way, that’s exactly what they will be doing. It’s certainly interesting to speculate on Steven Stamkos leaving the Lightning, but it really doesn’t look like that will happen.

Stamkos is too valuable to be allowed to walk away.