The Toronto Maple Leafs Should Try to Sign Steven Stamkos

Recent moves by the Tampa Bay Lightning indicate they may be moving on from the veteran forward. Taking another run at the homegrown product would help solve the Leafs power play woes.
Tampa Bay Lightning v Florida Panthers - Game Two
Tampa Bay Lightning v Florida Panthers - Game Two / Joel Auerbach/GettyImages
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The Toronto Maple Leafs have made it clear they are targeting defense help when NHL free agency opens, but an intriguing option to help at forward is looking more plausible.

The Tampa Bay Lightning have indicated that star sniper and long-time captain Steven Stamkos will hit the open market. The team and the player have been unable to agree on an extension, which gives the Toronto Maple Leafs an interesting opportunity.

The Lightning have been actively making other moves and their priorities in filling out their roster appear elsewhere.

The Maple Leafs now have the opportunity to fortify one of their weaknesses and remove a significant player from the lineup of their Atlantic Division rival.

The Leafs Can Capitalize on the Lightning Looking Elsewhere

The Lightning made two significant moves during Saturday's NHL draft in Vegas. First, they traded away defenseman Mikhail Sergachev to the Utah Hockey Club and Tanner Jeanott to the Los Angeles Kings. Next, insider Elliotte Friedman surmised Tampa Bay is clearing space to take a run at signing Jake Guentzel.

It has been reported that Tampa Bay is also working out the details of an extension for All-Star defenseman Victor Hedman.

With the Lightning occupied on securing the services of other players, the opportunity is there to sign Stamkos.

The Maple Leafs have stated their preference for going after free-agent defensemen and started that process by acquiring the rights to Chris Tanev. The availability of Stamkos may have been unexpected, but his signing is something Brad Treliving should explore.

The Toronto Maple Leafs Should Try to Sign Steven Stamkos

Stamkos signing with Toronto is a long shot but should be investigated. Despite the need for depth on defense, the Leafs should pivot if Stamkos is interested.

The prolific scorer would bolster the Leafs power play, providing something they have lacked for years; a heavy, threatening shot to relieve the pressure on Auston Matthews. Stamkos has scored double-digit power-play goals in thirteen of his sixteen NHL seasons.

Having Matthews and Stamkos on opposite sides of the ice, occupying the off-wing half-wall position would terrorize opponents. Mitch Marner dishing off passes to those two plus William Nylander is tantalizing.

A bonus of Stamkos is his scoring prowess in the playoffs. He led the Lightning in goals during this year's first-round loss to the Florida Panthers. He has had multiple productive playoff years plus the experience of winning championships. He still scores and shoots at a high level.

The prospect of signing Stamkos is likely a pipe dream. Other teams will offer him more than what the Leafs can. It would also mean signing one, not two, top-four defensemen.

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The Toronto Maple Leafs tried signing the homegrown sniper the last time he was a free agent. They should try convincing him one more that Toronto is the place he should be.