As we meander through the forwards, you will begin to notice that after Ilya Kovalchuck, there is almost no one available that is an impact player. Lee Stempniak is a good third third line winger, less than good second line winger capable of forty plus points a season, but not much more. Fairly consistent and fairly healthy, Stempniak spent most of his career on bad teams. That could be a coincidence, or it could be due to the fact that those teams relied heavily on him and he was not capable of delivering.
The idea of Stempniak moving to the Wild may not be far fetched. Free agency is a tricky beast. Is it a real possibility, or we just just grasping at straws?
|2009 - Lee Stempniak||80||28||20||48||0||26||9||1||2||0||212||13.2|
Current Cap Hit: $2.5 million
Nathan: Stempniak was a man possessed after moving to the desert. After a horrible start with the Maple Leafs (then again, who wasn't horrible in Toronto?), he got off to a scorching start with the Coyotes, sparking them to their best ever season in Phoenix. Now, if we thought Latendresse's season was a difficult one to use in forecasting his future, it's nothing compared to Stempniak. Which Lee Stempniak will show up in camp next season? Was he playing for a contract? Is this what happens when you free Lee? This is the kind of guy on whom someone will take a chance. The only question will be whether that chance will be a 1-year trial to see if he can do it again, running the risk of another good season and a huge payday, or give him the long-term deal with the risk that he collapses.
Verdict: 2 years, $3.5M/year.
Buddha: 48 points. It's a good, solid total. Given a center and a wingman with ability, Stempniak may even be capable of more than that. However, given the situation the Wild are in, he just does not seem to fit. If he earned his way onto the second line, someone needs to move up to the top line. If someone moves up to the top line, then Bruno or Mittens need to move down. Who moves? Is Richards ready to break up the top line to bring in Stempniak and take a risk? That's doubtful. Couple that with the fact that he is going to expect a raise from $2.5 million , and it just doesn't add up for the Wild.
Verdict: If they could get him for around what he makes now for 2 years, this is an option.
JS: He underachieved in Toronto and overachieved in Phoenix, likely just catching lightning in a bottle with his goal a game pace to end the season. It would be rather strange to see him log 1st line minutes, especially considering he may only produce at about the same rhythm as Mittens, so I don't really believe LEEEE! (Rush hour's Chris Tucker style, as my cousin and I called Stempniak) is the perfect fit, but if we sign a winger via FA, it probably might as well be him, but the Yotes will probably want to hold on to him. Plus, he's rather expensive for what he does.
Verdict: 1 year, 2.5 - 2.75 million