It all started with TSN's Bob McKenzie stating that "all signs point to Stamkos leaving Tampa," followed by a list of possible destinations for the currently-underperforming (12G, 11A) superstar. The Lightning won't allow Stamkos to walk for nothing at the trade deadline if a new contract isn't happening, so he may be asked to waive his NTC to at least let the Lightning get something in return.
McKenzie included the Blues on this list.
St. Louis? I can think of a lot of reasons why it couldn't happen but I can think of one - trying to beat Chicago - that it could.
As McKenzie points out, Stamkos, unless he's a sign-and-trade, is a rental for a contender. Yes, whatever team acquires him for help will immediately work on signing him to a long term deal to justify a trade of top prospects, picks, or whatever roster players he commands, but as Cardinals fans saw recently with Jason Heyward, signing a rental isn't a sure thing.
Would the Blues deal key assets for a rental Stamkos? They dealt Chris Stewart and Jaroslav Halak for Ryan Miller (or basically Steve Ott, if you want to look at it that way), but Stewart was under rperforming that season and Miller replaced Halak (in theory). Miller panned out to be a bust, which may make Doug Armstrong hesitant to do any more rental blockbuster deals for 5% improvement.
And then there's this:
Secondly, after Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman attended Thursday's game, Lightning assistant GM Pat Verbeek was here today. Fairly significant.— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) December 20, 2015
Oh, ok. It seems like the Bolts are interested in some of the Blues' assets for some of their assets. But who?
If it is in fact Stamkos-related, the Blues will have to give to get. Who is available? They could deal from defensive depth. Kevin Shattenkirk may be someone that the Lightning would like, but after seeing how the Blues' power play floundered without him to start the season, I would be surprised if they dealt him, for a rental or otherwise. Carl Gunnarsson would probably be a fan-favorite to be dealt at this moment.
Patrik Berglund's return will make for a log-jam on offense, so he or one of the Blues' other forwards may be at play. Ty Rattie is apparently the current top prospect in the doghouse. His name could be bandied about to sweeten a deal.
The biggest issue here, aside from dealing current roster players and prospects (and possibly picks), is the fact that to make Stamkos not be a rental he will have to be paid. A lot. The Blues are already up against the cap and have many pending UFAs at the end of this season, including David Backes and Troy Brouwer. Jaden Schwartz is a RFA and will more than likely have a decently sized contract coming to him. This makes signing Stamkos to the kind of deal that he expects very, very difficult - which makes the likelihood that he's a rental very, very possible.
As much fun as it would be to see Stamkos in the Blue Note, chances are good that Yzerman was discussing another player with Doug Armstrong. Matthew Carle isn't working right now with Jon Cooper's system. He was benched Monday and was a healthy scratch on Friday against the Capitals. He could possibly be good for 30 points this season, which is far more than Gunnarsson would be, so maybe a swap of left-handed defensemen is in the works?
Who knows, but the odds that anyone in St. Louis will be able to say that they've seen Stamkos are slim.