It has been repeated many a time over the past few weeks that Steven Stamkos, as he contemplates his future, holds all the cards due to the no-movement clause in his expiring contract.
Should he remain unsigned closer to the Feb. 29 trade deadline, the Tampa Bay Lightning will be at his mercy as to whether he’d be amenable to provide a list of teams to which he'd be willing to go.
And that’s if Tampa Bay would ever be willing to move him.
But the point is: Stamkos is in full control.
Don’t blame the Lightning; the vast majority of big-name players in this league are armed with no-movement clauses once they become eligible in their unrestricted free agent years.
It’s a big-time must for star players, and it’s become an absolute plague tying the hands of so many front offices around the NHL.
Which is why I bring you Alex Ovechkin as rare example of a player in Stamkos' stratosphere who in fact does not have a full no-move. That’s a credit to former Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee, who insisted on it. It was the hill he was going to die on. Nicklas Backstrom didn’t get a full no-move, either.
McPhee believed it was imperative the Caps keep as much control and flexibility as they could. So Ovechkin only has a limited no-move in which he can name 10 teams he won’t go to -- which leaves 19 teams the Caps would freely trade him to. Backstrom has seven teams he can refuse, leaving 22 teams the Caps can deal him to.
Now, I can’t foresee the day these trades even become discussion points: The Ovechkin-Caps marriage has never seemed more solid; ditto for Backstrom.
Still, we never thought a year ago at this time that we’d be wondering about Stamkos’ future in Tampa, right?
The point is, circumstances change on a whim. It’s why the great new battle moving forward in the cap world, I believe, will be on no-move clauses.
It’s put Washington, meanwhile, in a great position when it negotiates deals with players. The Caps can always say that if Ovechkin has 10 teams he refuse in a limited no-trade, no other player is getting more than 10.
Current Caps GM Brian MacLellan has kept up the custom, a case in point being the signing of veteran winger Justin Williams last July in a deal that does not include a no-move clause. MacLellan worked with McPhee for years and I know he also shares the view that it’s important to keep as much roster flexibility as possible.
Now, I don’t know exactly what’s taking so long to get the Anze Kopitar extension done with the Los Angeles Kings. I believe the term and money is mostly agreed upon, but there are still some details to work on. I was told Thursday that if all goes well, it could get wrapped up as early as next month.
What I will be curious to see is how the no-trade and/or no-move provisions will be structured. I have no sense of it at this point. But it will be interesting to see if it’s a full no-move or not.