Buffalo Sabres: Is Steven Stamkos Worth Risking so Much Money?

Mar 13, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. The Lightning won 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 13, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. The Lightning won 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

The Buffalo Sabres are reportedly prepared to offer Steven Stamkos $12 million per season, but is the former first overall draft pick worth so much money?

This has already been a big week for the Buffalo Sabres and it figures to only get more interesting. Fresh off acquiring the exclusive rights to negotiate with Jimmy Vesey, the Sabres are preparing to host a draft, in which they currently hold six of the top 100 picks.

However, if that isn’t enough, it now appears they will make a concerted effort to entice Steven Stamkos to move to Western New York. The information came to light on Tuesday, during Darren Dreger’s appearance on Montreal TSN 690.

Dreger said: “I applaud the Buffalo Sabres, Tim Murray and the Pegulas. They’re just proving that they’re going to be as aggressive as it takes to expedite the process of their full-on rebuild.

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“There’s a lot of speculation that they’re going absolutely all-in on Steven Stamkos.” Of course, speculation isn’t the same as fact, but the TSN analyst is convinced the Sabres will do their best to sign the former first overall draft pick.

Dreger said: “I mean, some of the numbers being rumored – and I always hate throwing out or building off rumors, because as an Insider, our job is to separate fact from fiction…But some of the numbers being speculated on are upwards of $12 million per year coming out of Buffalo.”

Understandably, one of the first things that Sabres fans will worry about, is if the team can afford to throw so much money at Stamkos? While any team will likely have to overpay for his signature, is he really worth spending $12 million per year on?

However, things are a lot better than you might expect. Depending on which source you use, Buffalo currently has between $21-24 million available in cap space.

Suddenly, the Sabres stance of being all-in on the Markham, Ontario native doesn’t seem quite as risky. In fact, if rumors that the Leafs will be looking to offer him around $13 million per year are true, Tim Murray can still afford to compete for his signature.

Buffalo Sabres
Nov 10, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) skates with the puck as Buffalo Sabres left wing Tyler Ennis (63) defends during the second period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Of course, you could then point to some of the players the Sabres will need to re-sign in upcoming seasons, including the likes of Evander Kane, Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart. The organisation will not want to compromise their ability to hold on to the core of what is a very promising and talented roster, just to sign one player – no matter how good he is.

However, even here, things are not as bad as first feared. While the salary cap did not go up as much as originally projected – $1.6 million instead of $3 million – the hope is it will continue to increase during the length of Stamkos’ contract, assuming he does come to Western New York.

In addition, there are other players with expiring contracts over the next few years, who Buffalo will not be so eager to attempt to retain. All in all, while the money side of business is admittedly more complex than we’re referencing here, Murray’s full-throttle approach to signing the two-time Maurice Richard Trophy winner makes a lot of sense.

In that respect, Dreger has a lot of optimism about the future in Buffalo: “I mean, if the Buffalo Sabres are going to spend that kind of dough in free agency on Steven Stamkos… if I’m Jimmy Vesey, and I’m looking at what we have in Jack Eichel, the aggressiveness if they’re able to land another piece like Stamkos, why wouldn’t I consider (Buffalo) as the real deal.”

Next: Was acquiring Vesey's negotiation rights a waste of time?

Assuming the reports are true, what do you make of the Sabres being all in on Stamkos? Do you agree with this strategy or do you think they’re risking too much money? Let us know in the comments section below.