More speculation on Steven Stamkos, and guessing the Calgary Flames’ starting goalie for the upcoming season.
Stamkos to Toronto not so crazy?
THE TAMPA TRIBUNE: Martin Fennelly suggests the speculation of Lightning captain Steven Stamkos bolting Tampa Bay for Toronto via free agency might not be so crazy. Fennelly thinks its “70-30” for Stamkos to re-sign with the Lightning, but considers that 30 to be the Maple Leafs. Despite the Leafs lack of success and the pressure of playing in that market, Fennelly notes Toronto pundits Chris Johnston and Damien Cox saying local boy Stamkos coming to Toronto could be akin to NBA star LeBron James returning home to Cleveland. Fennelly also points out the Leafs landed respected coach Mike Babcock when no one believed they could. He also notes popular Lightning stars Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis wound up leaving, though he feels Stamkos’ situation is different.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I still think Stamkos will be re-signed, but I can acknowledge the possibility it might not happen. As for the Leafs landing Babcock, that’s not a comparable. He’s a coach coming from a decade of success in Detroit seeking a challenging new opportunity. Stamkos is a star player on a team with the potential to be a perennial Stanley Cup contender for years. Now, if Stamkos and the Bolts win the Cup this season, that could change things if he’s still unsigned by then. Yes, the longer he goes unsigned the more speculation will grow over his future in Tampa Bay. For now, it’s not a subject to be taken seriously.
Latest on the Flames goaltending.
SPORTSNET: Mark Spector reports it’s no secret the Calgary Flames aren’t enamored with Jonas Hiller returning as their starter this season. He claims the Flames tried to move Hiller before the trade deadline and at the 2015 NHL draft. With Karri Ramo signed for this season and promising Joni Ortio no longer exempt from waivers, Spector believes Hiller will be shopped as Flames GM Brad Treliving looks for injuries among NHL starters, suggesting Treliving could pick up half of Hiller’s $4.5 million salary.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: So far, that opportunity hasn’t opened up yet for the Flames. They have the cap space to carry all three (Ortio carries a $600K salary for this season) to start the season. Treliving could also place Hiller on waivers, though it’s unlikely teams will want to take on his cap hit. They can demote Hiller, but will only get $950K in cap relief.