Brian MacLellan has said the Caps intend to upgrade their third line this offseason. This is part of our series looking at free agents who the Caps may target.
We expect the so-called ‘window’ for a Caps championship to end after next season. While Brian MacLellan hopes to improve his third line this summer, one likely free agent out of Tampa could provide some help to Washington’s offense in their final push. His name is Steve Stamkos.
Stamkos is a 6’1″ center from Ontario. He has played eight NHL seasons, all of them in Tampa, where he has recently enjoyed first line minutes. A player with that experience with offense might be a valued addition to the Caps, but there’s even more.
Stamkos has a decent shot. A 17-percent shooter over his career, Stamkos has more of a flair for scoring than Washington forwards like Jay Beagle and Tom Wilson. Compared to Michael Latta, for example, Stamkos has scored 308 more career goals in his career.
I’d expect Stamkos to get top nine minutes, but really he could play up and down the lineup, making any of his fellow skaters dangerous. He might even get some power play time.
Best of all, he’s only 26 years old.
Courtesy of Own the Puck
One possible problem could be money. Stamkos currently has a $7.5M cap hit, and he will earn even more money for his next contract. The Caps might have to move a player to make room, maybe two.
For example, they could trade forward Alex Ovechkin to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for thirteen or fourteen draft picks. Or they could clear the cap hits of Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky, Karl Alzner, and Daniel Winnik off the ledger. That might be enough.
That’s a lot to ask, but Stamkos (or “Stammer” as he’s known among Floridians) is strong skater with a decent shot and a high hockey IQ if you consider his background (he’s Canadian). If you’re looking to make the Caps better in 2017-18, you could not do much better than Steve Stamkos.