1. Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto Maple Leaf fans have been waiting, and waiting, and waiting for something to get excited about. That wait could soon be over.
The Leafs front office will work diligently over the next year to reshape the lineup and put a product on the ice that the fans in Toronto will be proud of. Part of that plan will include a bid in the Stamkos sweepstakes.
The Leafs front office began “Operation Land Steven Stamkos” last season by shedding the contracts of players like David Clarkson and continued into this summer when they finalized a deal with the New York Islanders which rid the organization of five contracts. The deal brought Michael Grabner to Toronto, a serviceable player making $5 million and just happens to be a free agent at the end of the 2015-2016 season. A total of near $14 million will be coming off of the books in Toronto at the end of the 2016 season, much of which is being paid out to players who will not be in the long term plans of the team. That is a lot of Canadian Dollars that will be freed up.
Leaf fans would be elated if the Ontario native came home. And there is a strong chance he will. And wouldn’t it be a hoot if in 2018 Taveres joins him there? Ouch Isles fans…ouch.
The Stamkos situation will certainly be an entertaining subplot to this NHL season. The powers that be in Tampa have a plan. And that plan could simply be to let it ride. That plan will more than likely push Stamkos out the door into a new shade of blue. The question is, which shade?