Sens should make a play for Stamkos

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:38 PM ET

On Canada Day, the Senators should go wild and crazy.

They should try a Canadian.

This is not to suggest that -- after the free-agent faux pas that were Russians Alex Kovalev and Sergei Gonchar the past two summers -- they need to get in on the bidding for Brad Richards, the pride and joy of Murray Harbour, P.E.I.

Richards, 31, is going to sign some ridiculous deal which will pay him something like $72 million over the next nine years. And he'll probably even be worth his salary. For about three of them.

No, Eugene Melnyk should go in a slightly different direction -- and open his wallet even wider.

The Senators owner should order GM Bryan Murray to take the unconventional route and get restricted free agent Steven Stamkos' name on an offer sheet.

Now I'm not as stupid as I look.

I know the Senators aren't going to pursue this exceptionally talented Tampa Bay Lightning forward. I'm just saying they should.

Stamkos, a Markham native, is only 21, so he'd fit into their plan for the future. He'd also do wonders for their present.

Dangle a 10-year, $100-million carrot in front of him. Hell, go even bigger. Whatever it takes to pull him out of the Bolts' reach. Stamkos is a sure bet. The former first overall pick has scored 96 goals and not missed a single game the last two seasons. Unlike Richards, he'll still be going strong in 2021.

By then, he'll probably have been the best player in the league for about eight years.

It's not like the billionaire boss can't afford him. And the Senators are about $21 million under the cap. They haven't got wiggle room, they have the space to jump up and down.

This city would be doing just that, with joy, if the Senators could ever steal Stamkos from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

What would it cost them, other than cash? Whatever the going rate is for a thug who would kidnap Bolts GM Steve Yzerman and keep him holed up in the mountains for a week, thus preventing him from matching the offer.

They'd also owe the Lightning four first-round picks.

Big deal. They don't need anymore first-rounders for a while. They came home with five of them from Minnesota last week. The three they selected -- Mika Zibanejad, Stefan Noesen, Matt Puempel -- the one they scooped in the second round (Shane Prince) that they said was on their Top 30 list, and Nikita Filatov, the (former) first-rounder they plucked for a song from Columbus.

And they have a more young pillars at the back end on which to build a contender. The average age of Robin Lehner, Erik Karlsson, David Rundblad and Jared Cowen is 20.

What would Jason Spezza say if the Senators were paying Stamkos $3-$4 million more than him? How about, "Thank you very much. I liked playing with Butsie Butler, but this guy is a better sniper than Dany Heatley." And he's a solid citizen.

Stamkos had 51 goals his second year with Tampa. He'd score 70 playing with Spezza, easy.

By signing an RFA, especially a top-level one to the richest contract in the NHL, Melnyk would piss off the other owners and likely risk losing Karlsson to a similar offer sheet next summer.

So what. Be bold. Live dangerously. Figure out a way to keep Karlsson and the rest of your top personnel. We're talking Steven Stamkos here. Not only will the guy's face be on the cover of EA Sports NHL 12, but his name is going to be on the Stanley Cup a number of times. He's a winner, and he'd make you a winner too.

Ah yes, what a statement it would be. To sign Stamkos, Melnyk would be telling his fans he wants a winner, not with the usual lip service, but with a scream heard 'round the hockey world.

Alas, I know it's not going to happen.

So instead, how about the Senators celebrate Canada Day by signing any Canadian.

They really don't have very many at all.

As it stands, their 2011-12 opening night roster could look like this:

Goal - Craig Anderson (American), Robin Lehner (Swede)

Defence - Sergei Gonchar (Russian), Erik Karlsson (Swede), David Rundblad (Swede), Chris Phillips (Canadian), Filip Kuba (Czech), Brian Lee (American).

First line: Milan Michalek (Czech), Jason Spezza (Canadian), Daniel Alfredsson (Swede)

Second line: Peter Regin (Dane), Mika Zibanejad (Swede), Bobby Butler (American)

Third line: Nick Foligno (American), Ryan Shannon (American), Chris Neil (Canadian)

Fourth line: Colin Grenning (Canadian), Zack Smith (Canadian), Jesse Winchester (Canadian)

Now Matt Carkner and Erik Condra, a couple of other Canucks, could also be a part of it. But they could be in the pressbox, too.

Theoretically, the team that lives in the nation's capital could have six Canadians in its 20-man lineup.

There should be some decent options available on the UFA market at noon Friday. Guys like Scottie Upshall, Joel Ward, Max Talbot, Zenon Konopka, Ben Eager, Matt Bradley, Jason Arnott, Raffi Torres, Michael Ryder, Chuck Kobasew and Simon Gagne.

And if they were are to chase another European or RFA, may we suggest Ville Leino and Tyler Kennedy, respectively.

Still, the one free agent the Senators really should make a move on superstar-in-the-making Steven Stamkos, a Canadian.

That sure would set off some fireworks in the capital.


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