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Steven Stamkos, ufa

I've been reading forum and twitter responses toward the news Stamkos was offered $8.5 million per year from the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Stamkos, in terms of hockey salary, is probably worth more than $8.5 million per year. I'd even consider him in the same tier as Malkin, Toews, and Kopitar. Crosby would be in a tier of his own, especially considering he has one of the few lifetime contracts in the NHL.
Anyway, Stamkos is getting eviscerated by Tampa Bay fans, for no reason at all, it seems. He's getting no love. Some people are even claiming he's not even worth that $8.5 million offer.
Which is insane.
Stamkos has a value to the Lightning that might not even be measurable.
He currently has 37 points in 48 games, which is down from seasons past. At first glance. He leads the Lightning in Even Strength points, though, with eighteen. And while his own shooting percentage remains largely the same as years past, his team's shooting percentage when he's on the ice is just over four percent. In years gone by, his team shooting percentage has usually been around or over five percent. That one percent drop has probably costed Stamkos five to ten assists this year.
Consider also, he doesn't actually have a regular line mate to skate with. His most common line mates are stapled to other lines. His most common line mate, Namestnikov, plays the same position as Stamkos. They're both good players, but it seems as though they play as often with each other as they do away. By this point in the season, Stamkos should have nearly 300 to 500 minutes with another forward, but he doesn't. There's just no consistency there. It's a helicopter line, and he's usually carrying the load himself.
The players Stamkos plays best with are carrying other lines. It's an old tactic used to 'spread' out the scoring, I suppose. And it works, largely. But were Stamkos to spend the season with Kucherov and Namestnikov that'd probably be in the conversation for best line in hockey. Their Corsi numbers together are simply gaudy, and would wreck the Eastern conference. Together, they run the table at nearly 65% Corsi for, and defend at 50% Corsi against. Those are insane numbers.
Kucherov plus Johnson are a great line. Stamkos plus Kucherov would be an elite line.
One could almost consider Stamkos is getting shafted by the Lightning head coach, having to play with the second best options on the team rather than the best option, right off the bat. And the choices go down through the line up rather than up.
One more important fact to consider, is despite how the Tampa Bay lines are deployed, Stamkos is still receiving the most on-ice attention from opposing teams. And he's still better than even, carrying a huge offensive load on his own. Take him out of the Lightning line up, and that opposition attention is spread downwards. The impact won't be huge, of course, but it'll be felt, somewhat. And that marginal difference is usually felt later in the season, and in the playoffs.
If Stamkos walks from the Lightning, it'll be a loss for them. They'll still be playoff contenders, but they will no longer be Stanley Cup contenders. They'll have to make up the difference losing Stamkos' play by playing harder than they are, now. More scoring by committee.
Well, it's the Lightning's choice, of course.

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