Steven Stamkos isn't stupid. He won the OHL's Bobby Smith Trophy for scholastic achievement in 2006-07. So, why use the dumb "it was an accident" excuse after this week's social media gaffe?
C'mon @RealStamkos91 -- you're better than this.
Stamkos became an instant Twitter sensation this week after "liking" a TSN video that discussed him signing with the Leafs this coming offseason. He grew up in a suburb of Toronto and folks in the Greater Toronto Area have been linking the guy to the Leafs for years.
Now, his own thumbs have done the same.
It's not the first time this has happened. Last July, @RealStamkos91 "favorited" an article that asked when would the Leafs have its own LeBron James. You know -- a hometown hero returning to the fold ...
Clearly, this is all LeBron's fault. Not.
There are a number of possible explanations (and none of them have anything to do with LeBron). First, it really could have been an accident -- I know I've absentmindedly "liked" something in social media that I've had to unlike in a hurry. And my thumbs aren't even that big.
Second, Stamkos really could be socially stupid and/or unaware of the impact of his own actions. I doubt that, though, based on that scholastic achievement award. So, I'm taking this off the table once and for all.
Third, he could be somewhat Pavlovian with social media and he simply hit "like" when saw his name, but without reading. D'oh. This really is possible, although it's damn stupid in today's society. So, this one does have legs, though early short ones.
Lastly, @RealStamkos91 could just be remarkably frustrated with both the team and its management, so he's toying with us all. Now, this is starting to feel closer to the truth. The Bolts are playing poorly and Stamkos' average power-play time has dropped from 4:29 last season to 3:09 this one. There were rumors that he wasn't exactly content with a second-line role in last year's playoff run. Or switch to the wing. And what exactly happened to Stevie Y's proclamation that his top priority this past summer was Stammer's contract extension?
The damn coach just got an extension. @RealStamkos91 is still waiting.
The bottom line is simple, dumb thumbs or not. @RealStamkos91 is playing it smart while toying with everyone. The cap for 2016-17 will go up slightly to an estimated $71.5 to $74.5 million. No-one gets a max deal (20 percent of cap), but that slight increase means Stamkos could get a little bit more than if he signed right now.
Even with the Bolts.
Money is money. And a well-timed "like" can certainly pay off, even with a little awkward media attention.
Now let's look at who caught my eye this week.
Viktor Arvidsson, LW, Nashville (1 percent Yahoo! owned) - Arvidsson could be yet another late-round draft steal for Preds' general manager, David Poile. He went undrafted three years in a row before the Preds grabbed him in the fourth round in 2014. The 5-9, 170 lb forward is a true firecracker that quite simply isn't intimidated playing against elite competition. He broke camp with the Preds, but got sent back to the AHL to continue his development. He returned to the NHL at the end of November only to make headlines for denting Carlo Colaiacovo's trachea with an ugly crosscheck. But Arvidsson's speed, skill and fearlessness have delivered three points (two goals, one assist) and 15 shots in his last four games. He's moving up the lineup. Get onboard soon before people realize he could be a poor man's Johnny Gaudreau or Brendan Gallagher.
Matt Beleskey, LW, Boston (9 percent) - Beleskey captured lightning in a bottle last season with 22 goals and 32 points in just 65 games for the Ducks. But both he and the Bruins have discovered it wasn't lightning in that bottle, but just a bunch of dying fireflies. Beleskey got off to a slow start on the east coast, but has started to pick up a bit of steam with seven points (six assists) in his last 10 starts. And he's firing more shots -- 30 of his 48 have come in that span. He's actually on a mid-40s points pace and will deliver 275-plus hits. Surprise, surprise - there's value here on the cheap, even when your stat line looks like a bottle of dead bugs.
Beau Bennett, LW/RW, Pittsburgh (9 percent) - Bennett was once a highly sought-after prospect -- fantasy owners had visions of the sharp-shooting kid riding shotgun with Sidney Crosby. But the jury is still out on double-B. He hasn't been able to stay healthy and his shot isn't quite so sharp after a number of wrist injuries. Bennett's just an average skater, but he creates a lot of space for himself with his ability to handle the puck. And he isn't afraid to throw his weight around. I'm holding out hope that his four points (two goals, two assists) and 15 hits in his last five games are a hint of a top-six or top-nine future. At minimum, Bennett is a short-term add to your roster to take advantage of this little run ... especially given his time with number 87.
J.T. Brown, RW, Tampa Bay (1 percent) - Brown wears rocket skates and plays a 200-foot game. He's not exactly known for his offense, but he's on pace to almost double his career point park (19). He has four points, including three helpers, eight shots and a plus-5 rating in his last three games. And seven of those shots came Thursday against the Sens. Brown will get playing time - he won the trust of coach Jon Cooper when the latter coached him in the AHL. With playing time comes confidence. And with confidence comes offensive aggression. Hey -- Brown could actually hit 40 points this season while firing a load of rubber at opposing twinetenders. That combo has real value in deep formats.
Ben Hutton, D, Vancouver (1 percent) - Hutton is a converted forward with size, skill and good wheels. He was a bit of a surprise to break camp with the Orcas this season, but has shown a level of poise that belies the number of games he's played. And now a bigger role awaits. Dan Hamhuis is out for a couple months after that hideous puck to the face and Hutton is at the front of the line for his top-four role. He already has nine points -- all assists -- in 23 games. Increased ice time will do one of two things -- stress him out, thus slowing his pace, or give him confidence to do more. I'm leaning to the stressed out Hutton, but there's nothing wrong with grabbing him and then packaging him in a deal with that one pathetic Canucks' fan that's in every league.
Al Montoya, G, Florida (2 percent) - Montoya is only valuable in daily leagues where goaltending is at a premium. He plays about once a week or once every nine days, and has delivered outstanding stats in limited action. Montoya has played twice in December and earned two wins after he stopped 42 of 44 shots (.955). Stash him if you have a spot at the bottom of your roster.
Victor Rask, C, Carolina (14 percent) - Rask's breakout is upon us. And he's dragging the half-dead Jeff Skinner along with him. Rask has 21 points in 30 games so far, but nine of those have come in the last 10. And he's managed to lift Skinner's butt back onto the score sheet with six -- yes, six goals in his last four games. He's generating offense while suppressing the other team's scorers. And he's gotta be special if he can resurrect Jeff Skinner's career. Sixty points are within his grasp and that includes a load on the power play. Is that a fit on your roster? It is on mine.
David Warsofsky, D, Pittsburgh (0 percent) - Warsofsky is a great skater who can move the puck and QB the power play. And as recently as a couple years ago, he was on the fast track to Boston's blue line. Then along came injury and a guy named Torey Krug, whose game matches Warsofsky's, and the lights started to dim for this diminutive defender. But he has another shot, this time with the high-flying Pens. And his ability to play power-play maestro with the likes of Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel was on full display Friday night. It didn't result in any points, but his confidence must be soaring. Warsofsky is filling in for the injured Kris Letang and saw 25 minutes of ice time against the Kings. He was even on the ice in the three-on-three overtime. His stay in that role could be short and sweet, depending on the severity Letang's ouch. But his skills could soon deliver fantasy goodness if he continues to get that kind of ice time.
Alexander Wennberg, C, Columbus (1 percent) - Wennberg is as stereotypically Swedish as they come. He plays a 200-ft game with intelligence and anticipation. He skates well and can adapt his game to fit with any and all types of line mates. Still, Wennberg's six points in 18 games seem rather ordinary. But five of those -- all assists -- have come in his last three games, courtesy of a second-line role. Wennberg has been compared to Pavel Datsyuk because of his ability to read plays. I'm not sold on the Datsyuk comparison just yet, but I'm willing to withhold judgment for a few years. For now, a second-line role on a team with nowhere to go but up should deliver solid fantasy numbers.
Back to @RealStamkos91.
The Bolts have a tough decision to make. Right now, no deal for Stamkos means no deal for Nikita Kucherov. And the rest of the Triplets will need contracts the following year.
Tampa's cap is an interesting thing. I'm certain they'd love to have Matt Carle's $5.5 million anchor disappear before 2018. And they're paying Vincent Lecavalier $1.76 million until 2019 to play for someone else.
I'm not a betting person, but if I was, I think I'd lay odds on Steven Stamkos leaving Tampa Bay. I'm not sure it'll be to Toronto (sorry, Paul Bruno - I do know you were the first to pump the tires on that option a long, LONG time ago). But I do think the Bolts have to think long and hard about where the team is going and whether they can afford Stamkos long term.
Or do they build around the Triplets, Jonathan Drouin, Vladislav Namestnikov and Brayden Point?
Until next week.