Why Steven Stamkos Should Join The Montreal Canadiens On July 1st

The long-time Tampa Bay Lightning captain will be changing teams after contract talks stalled.
Tampa Bay Lightning v Montreal Canadiens
Tampa Bay Lightning v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

The Montreal Canadiens will have plenty of competition in the Steven Stamkos sweepstakes. Rumors are always rampant this time of year. However, some teams making the rounds on social media as potential suitors are the Nashville Predators, Boston Bruins, and Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Lightning freed up plenty of cap space on Saturday afternoon when they traded Mikhail Sergachev to the Utah Hockey Club and Tanner Jeannot to the Los Angeles Kings. The belief was that doing these trades would help with re-signing Stamkos, but the parties still aren't agreeing.

The alleged offer from the Lightning was an eight-year, $24 million contract that would pay Stamkos what he'd get on a four or six-year deal but lower the average salary. Offering Stamkos three million per year is outrageously disrespectful to their captain, and it's hard to blame him for wanting to move on.

The Canadiens swooping in to take Stamkos from their Atlantic Division rivals in the Maple Leafs and Bruins wouldn't go over well with the opposing fanbases. It's unlikely, but there are some connections between Stamkos and the Canadiens.

The Tampa Bay Connection

The Montreal Canadiens made a bold move when they hired Martin St. Louis to be their head coach. The former Lightning and Rangers player stayed home in Quebec to coach his childhood team, a dream come true for the aspiring bench boss.

St. Louis didn't oppose adding some of his friends to the front office, as Vincent Lecavalier became the special advisor of hockey operations. If St. Louis did this to bring one of his friends in, could he push to sign Stamkos and complete the former trio from the Tampa Bay days?

The "Win-Now" Narrative

Everyone is discounting the Canadiens because Stamkos wants to be on a team with a chance of winning. Stamkos is 34, meaning he likely has five or six seasons remaining before he retires. Suppose the Canadiens give him a five-year, $25 million contract. There's no reason to believe that the Canadiens can't compete at the end of that window.

Lane Hutson and David Reinbacher will be in their fifth professional season. Ivan Demidov will likely be in North America for four years by then, and the rest of their defense core will be in their prime. Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki will also be near the peaks of their careers, and it's unknown how much Juraj Slafkovsky will have grown by then.

Picture this: Steven Stamkos wins a Stanley Cup in his final season. He raises the Stanley Cup alongside Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier while passing the team to a growing Demidov and Reinbacher. The Canadiens will soon be in a great spot, and the guidance and leadership Stamkos could give in their learning years could be invaluable. A small overpayment by Kent Hughes would be worth it if Stamkos makes the young core even better than expected.