Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Posted: 4:19 p.m. Updated: 8:00 p.m.
By Tim PanaccioCSNPhilly.com
Another day of the Steven Stamkos Saga passed without any sign of movement from the Flyers as to whether theyll extend an offer sheet for Tampa Bays restricted free agent center.
A lot of indecision within a very decisive group, which isnt like the Flyers, said a source with knowledge of the talks.
The Flyers cant decide among themselves whether its in their best interests to make an offer.
What are the reasons?
For starters, Tampa general manager Steve Yzerman told Flyers GM Paul Holmgren he will match any offer and the Flyers are starting to believe it because theyre hearing it everywhere.
Whoever does this, Tampa has to match, said the source. Its a bad position, but you have no choice. If you dont sign this player in that market, you are guaranteeing yourself you have no upside with your fans. Yzerman knows that.
So do the Flyers and the rest of the NHL.
I cannot believe Philly is seriously considering an offer sheet, said one prominent person familiar with the talks. Owner Jeff Vinik is a billionaire. Tampa will match any amount. Its an exercise in futility.
There were tweets from the Daily News and Delco Times saying the Flyers would offer a 12-year, 115 million offer sheet with an eventual no-trade clause that averaged 9.58 million.
The source with direct knowledge of the negotiations said the Flyers have bandied numbers around, but dont even have a consensus on a contract and that none of those numbers have been submitted to Flyers chairman Ed Snider for approval.
The Flyers contingent consists primarily of general manager Paul Holmgren, assistant GM Barry Hanrahan, and team president Peter Luukko. They have examined more than 100 sheets of paper, the source said, without any kind of consensus.
To put those reported 115 million contract numbers in some kind of perspective, consider that Vinik bought the Lightning for an estimated 110 million in February 2010. Forbes Magazine gave the Bolts a franchise value of 145 million.
Talks with agents Don Meehan and Mark Guy of Newport Sports Group continued on Wednesday without an announcement.
Its entirely possible that Newport Sports is doing what most agencies would do in this situation enticing wealthy clubs such as the Flyers to make a bid, thereby driving the price up on re-signing negotiations with Tampa.
The one benefit of an offer sheet from Tampa's viewpoint? If Yzerman is having trouble getting a deal, then the offer sheet just made it easier for him. He matches. Game over.
From the Flyers perspective, any deal for Stamkos is going to require the loss of a major player in terms of salary.
The most logical players impacted could be Scott Hartnell (4.2 million), Kris Versteeg (3.08 million), Andrej Meszaros (4.0) and Matt Carle (3.43 million). Regardless, the Flyers will have to clear salary somewhere.
Right now, the Flyers have cap flexibility and feel they only have to tinker with their roster. One of the arguments being made is what impact Stamkos will have on the front and back end of the remaining roster.
If they match, then you have to get rid of this guy and that guy, the source said.
And what if the Flyers make an offer and then Tampa sits on it during the seven days it has to match? Meanwhile, potential free-agent pickups that would be part of Plan B would likely be off the market.
Guys like Erik Cole, John Madden, Jamie Langenbrunner and Michal Handzus players whom the Flyers might have interest in acquiring. Even ex-Flyer Arron Asham, a guy the Flyers say was more valuable than they realized in terms of being a glue guy in the dressing room.
The maximum salary for 2011-12 would be 12.86 million under the new 64.3 million salary cap. A higher cap hit would be harder for Tampa to match.
Whats perplexing here is why its taking Yzerman so long to do what should be an easy deal to lock up Stamkos long-term as the clubs franchise player. Yzerman told the Tampa Tribune on Wednesday night that the two sides talked and would speak again on Friday but he did not elaborate beyond that.
One source, who spoke to Yzerman a while ago, said it might be because management is not convinced that Stamkos is worth the kind of dollars hes seeking, even if he is a 50-goal scorer.
On the other hand, it could also be that Stamkos may not want to sign long-term in Tampa Bay.
Stamkos is being persuaded by the NHLPA to let this ride a bit more before signing early.
E-mail Tim Panaccio at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @TPanotchCSN.
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