Could Stempniak be heading to Thrasherville?

Craig Custance informed us recently that Thrashers GM Rick Dudley has “touched base” with the agent of Lee Stempniak. The 27-year right wing is still an unsigned UFA who is coming off a three-year contract that paid a total old $7.5 million.

So, is this a “where there is smoke, there is fire” situation? I mean, why would Dudley & Co. let something like this leak out if there wasn’t not any “there” there? And certainly general managers “touch base” with agents all the time…right?

Lee Stempniak, seen here in action against the Nashville Predators, scored 28 goals last season (AP/Frederick Breedon)

Lee Stempniak, seen here in action against the Nashville Predators, scored 28 goals last season (AP/Frederick Breedon)

Adding some fuel to the flames of speculation is that the Thrashers are looking to replace the two-dozen or so goals that boarded a plane with with Maxim Afinogenov and flew off to Russia. So, it reasons that the 6’-0” 190 lb Stempniak could conceivably fill such a void.

Between Toronto and Phoenix last season he amassed 28 goals and 30 assists during a total of 80 games played. He had an EVEN +/- rating…-10 in 62 games with the Maple Leafs, +10 during 18 games played with the Coyotes. The season before that he had 14 goals, 30 assists and was a –12 while splitting time with the Leafs and St. Louis Blues.

Stempniak grew up in western New York, graduating from St. Francis High School in 2001. His parents insisted he attend college, so he went to Dartmouth where he majored in economics while playing hockey. In his four seasons with the Big Green he scored 63 goals and 88 assists in 135 ECAC games played.

In the summer of 2003 he was drafted 148th overall by the St. Louis Blues.

After four years of college hockey, Stempniak joined the Blues for the 2005-06 season. He was sent down to the Peoria Rivermen of the AHL around New Years, but returned to St. Louis a month later after the Blues traded away Doug Weight and Mike Sillanger. In his first game back, he scored the tying goal during regulation then the game-winning shootout goal in a 3-2 win over Calgary. He played in a total of 57 NHL games that year, scoring 14 goals and 27 assists.

The next season Stempniak played in all 82 games for St. Louis. That year he led the Blues with 27 goals while playing on a line with David Backes and Jay McClement.

Would you like to see Lee Stempniak signed by the Thrashers?

  • Yes - Do it now! (81%, 185 Votes)
  • No - We can do better (10%, 23 Votes)
  • Feh...the roster is fine the way is (9%, 20 Votes)

Total Voters: 228

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In November of 2008 the Blues dealt Stempniak to Toronto in exchange for Alexander Steen and Carlo Colaiacovo. He played there for remainder of that season and into last year’s campaign, plying in 123 games for the Leafs, scoring 25 goals and 36 assists. He was traded by Toronto to Phoenix on March 3 of this year for Matt Jones and a pair of draft picks.

Stempniak didn’t exactly wander aimlessly in the desert, though, as he netted 14 goals and 4 assists. He earned NHL player of the month honors for the month of March. And last April he experienced the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in his career while with the Coyotes. He had 2 assists in the seven game series loss to the Detroit Red Wings.

For his career, he has 96 goals, 113 assists and is a –24 in 374 NHL games.

What would it cost to acquire Stempniak? As stated above, he is coming off a three-year $7.5 million. Last season he earned $3.5 mil, the season before that his salary was $2.5 mil and $1.5 mil in the first year of the contract.

According to CapGeek.com, the Thrashers are still about $20 million under the cap. So even if he commands similar compensation, Atlanta has more than enough room, (DUH5).

227 comments Add your comment

kracker

August 24th, 2010
7:14 pm

Do it Duds!!!

World Be Free

August 24th, 2010
7:24 pm

I forgot he went to St. Francis High School or “Frannies” as we used to call them. My HS was 3 miles away from St. Francis but we never played them in hockey since they were in the Catholic Leagues. Great high school academically, though it didn’t have any girls. Just some history.

I don’t see him coming here; where you going to play him. He’ll get alotta money, too much to plunk him on the 3rd line. Phoenix is a good fit, especially when you consider most GMs are going to want to see him repeat last season to make sure 2009-2010 wasn’t a fluke. Six feet, one ninety isn’t exactly a power forward, no edge, spent too much time counting money at Dartmouth.

Lord Stanley

August 24th, 2010
7:29 pm

We will find a place for him. You never have enough power tools in the tool shed. 3yr $9 million would be good.

Lord Stanley

August 24th, 2010
7:30 pm

Rawhide Thank you for a new post.

Red Light

August 24th, 2010
7:30 pm

Thank you World Be Free. This guy isn’t a difference maker, never has been. Another contract year guy who has yet to get a contract. That tells me two things: he isn’t that valuable to most GMs around the league and he wants too much money.

He’s another Nelson Emerson type who had some very solid years in the league but couldn’t sustain it.

Passing on him with conviction!

World Be Free

August 24th, 2010
7:42 pm

Red Light-right on – there’s not one thing about Stepniak’s game that stands out for me. I think he got into a good situation in Phoenix last season and potted alotta goals. He vanished in Tronna when they needed him most. Pass, get me another guy with an edge. Right on with the Nelson Emerson comparison. Those Franny guys were never tough anyhow, but it’s tough to rag on a Polish boy.

Lord Stanley, we would have better off giving dollars to Step’s former teammate, Matthew Lomabrdi who went to Nashville. Lombardi will turn out to be THE best UFA pickup this season. Good speed, hands and he will fit in perfectly in Nashville, another David Poile pickup. Nashville, budget team that always competes.

Rawhide

August 24th, 2010
7:46 pm

Rawhide Thank you for a new post.

Lord Stanley – Don’t mention it…

Smoothie

August 24th, 2010
7:48 pm

Giving up so soon on the Blue Crew piece? The boys were just gettin warmed up!

kracker

August 24th, 2010
7:52 pm

hmmmm We wanted Max back. We got Freddy Meyer. Where were we going to play Max? We want another 20 goal scorer. Stempniak can score 20 goals. duh

Having said that, he has to come at a reasonable price, something along what LS said above. If he wants like 4 years/$15M or more he will have to keep looking.

IDWT

ex-ex-STH

August 24th, 2010
7:57 pm

I don’t think Stemp is the answer. Like kracker said, we passed on Max, so why would we bring in this high $ forward?? Duds is setting up for a trade by stockpiling all these d-men. How about a Valabik, Meyer or Zuberov and Thorburn and a pick/prospect for Carter? Isn’t Philly up against the cap and I thought I heard a rumor about them moving Carter.

Budder

August 24th, 2010
8:02 pm

I agree with kracker…with as much cap space as ASG seems to have, and in a UFA year where pickings have been pretty meager, I’d like to see Stempniak here for $8M/2 yrs.

We gotta get somebody we can write in for twenty goals or better…

Budder

August 24th, 2010
8:03 pm

I sure like the way ex-ex-STH is thinking, though!

Lord Stanley

August 24th, 2010
8:08 pm

okay so those who don’t like the Stemp idea, then who. Right now I think he is the best UFA option, but I have been known to be wrong. :)

Spud Webb

August 24th, 2010
8:14 pm

No on max and no on nak. I’ll pass on both also.

ex-ex-STH

August 24th, 2010
8:20 pm

Duds ain’t paying for a UFA. He’s trading for a high $ forward. There is plenty to offer!

Budder

August 24th, 2010
8:33 pm

I’ve always been a fan of Jeff Carter’s game, but reading what this Flyers blogger says of the matter, they would want an NHL-proven goaltender packaged with a middling winger and a 5-6 D-Man.

Dang – where’s Moose now?

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/406031-philadelphia-flyers-trading-jeff-carter-would-be-a-gamble-at-best

ex-ex-STH

August 24th, 2010
8:38 pm

Then why not sign Niemi at $2.75, throw in a cheap 5-6 d-man, and a role player like Thorburn all for Carter??

World Be Free

August 24th, 2010
8:50 pm

Lord Stanley-I am not saying you are wrong. But I am concerned about the fact that he is still out there at this point and nobody has signed him for even one season. It’s alot like Max last year; we may be looking for the lightning in a bottle Max gave us last season. Stepniak is not that dynamic, you have to hope he gels with whoever he is paired with. That’s also alotta money for a budget team, especially when we are signing Little and hopefully Bergfors for less. Go out and pay a UFA more to come here, right after signing these guys? Commiting to stepniak also closes the door on a youngster who may just need a chance to kick the door in. So are we really ahead by keeping a hungry kid off the roster? If we are going to sign another forward, let it be a support player with grit, Asham was my choice, maybe Guerin.

I am sure Duds will know what to do and if he signs Stepniak then I am sure he has thought it through and feels good about him.

World Be Free

August 24th, 2010
8:56 pm

Everybody else passed on Max too, even with his 24 goals and hustle in pocket. GMs have memories of Max figure skating in Buffalo for 3 entire seasons, while the ghost of Lee Stepniak sleep skated in Tronna for a season and one half.

Every team is carrying a contract they would like to dump cuz a player did not live to expectations. Explains why Max is back in the homeland and Lee is still waiting for his call.

GaVaHokie

August 24th, 2010
9:07 pm

I think Stempie would be a great fit with Pevs and Kane on Line 2.

ex-ex-STH

August 24th, 2010
9:14 pm

GVH, then where do you put Ladd??

Hip Czech

August 24th, 2010
9:14 pm

I’m holding to the trade for a top 6 forward theory…still teams out there with cap issues. IF Kovalchuk winds up in NJ what do they have to move to fit him in? Patrick Elias?

Carter, Elias, Krejci (or to a lesser extent Bergeron) any of them would look just fine here.

Besides Eklund says Stempniak is re-signing with Phoenix, so that’s a sure thing, right? :-)

TrueBlue

August 24th, 2010
9:16 pm

WBF makes a great point….We passed on Max for a good reason…He wanted a longer contract then Dudley was willing to offer. With Max’s history of injury and at times, un-inspired play, he was a no brainer for Dudley to pass.

Obviously, a lot of other GMs in the league felt the exact same way.

Lord Stanley

August 24th, 2010
9:22 pm

good point on prospects. I also would of liked asham. There is not much out there, and trading away are future whether f or d. However I am sure Duds will do whats best for the club.

GaVaHokie

August 24th, 2010
9:23 pm

ex-STH… Line 3 with Buff and Cormier.

GaVaHokie

August 24th, 2010
9:26 pm

Per Ben Wright… Thrashers invite Kyle McLaren to camp.

This is a guy I was screaming for years and years ago before San Jose picked him up.

Lord Stanley

August 24th, 2010
9:51 pm

where was he last year

Hip Czech

August 24th, 2010
9:57 pm

Wow…how many D men do we need? With McLaren apparently getting a tryout that makes about 47 defensemen for the 6th and 7th spots. Something hast to give.

Lord Stanley

August 24th, 2010
10:06 pm

The more competition for jobs the better. Just makes the team better

World Be Free

August 24th, 2010
10:20 pm

I always like Lyle Mac though he may just be a little long in the tooth to make a difference.
I think we all agree that Duds has another move up his sleeve. Step, Guerin, another? Summer used to be boring, not anymore!

HookyBob

August 24th, 2010
10:30 pm

Not sold on Stempniak,..but if Duds thinks he’ll fit I’m all for it. Duds seems to like more physical players, or at least a healthy mix, say 2 big or gritty guys, per forward line. We have Little signed, and are working on Bergfors, so slots for Stempniak may be limited.

The theory that Duds is stockpiling low $ players, be it depth or potential, to make a trade for a top 6, or even top 3, forward is very appealing to me. If not Carter, I’m still hopeful we can get Iggy.

Lord Stanley

August 24th, 2010
10:41 pm

what about getting parise if devils sign kovy?

Darkhorse

August 24th, 2010
11:01 pm

No thanks on Lee or any other remaining FA forward to fill the top six with. I just don’t see any upside to his game that’s going to help this current roster over the hump. Duds really needs to be patient and creative instead. Keep working on that short list of legit top three forwards he would like to have for the right price in a trade. As others above have echoed, there’s a good chance a nice player will become available that closer we get to camp and the cap has to be set on all teams.

Some may argue that bringing in a FA is cheaper, but if you’re settling for “best availible”, the next Todd White on a two or three year deal may be what we get. We have enough prospects in the pantry that if the right deal becomes available, make a trade for what you really want. No one here is crying over the assets we sent the other way this summer for what we received from the Bhawks, so another mid-range player or prospect and a pick of some type may get you a lot very soon.

Someone mentioned Patrik Elias earlier. He would be a fine fit here. Someone else mentioned Carter in Philly, but that the price may be too high. What Philly wants and what they can actually get for him are reasonable scenarios that may plague these cap strapped teams.

Hockey Biltong

August 24th, 2010
11:08 pm

back to the old blog, the partiers were always in the band. clarinets’ making out with the percussionists.
trumpeters snogging the string players, yeah the band will be a safe place…..lol

Darkhorse

August 24th, 2010
11:09 pm

Parise would be fantastic, but I would be shocked if Lou let him go. One reason I mentioned Elias is he has three more years left at 6mil a season. The cap hit is pretty big, but he’s more of a legit 6mil guy than most in the league and Lou may need to move him if the Kaptain returns. Sorry Lou, no one will want Rolston for over 5mil a season or Zubrus for 3.5 for the next three. So I thing you’re going to have to give up something you don’t want to part with to make it work.

The Joker

August 24th, 2010
11:20 pm

IDWT?

Isn’t Don Waddell Terrible?

SomaAtl95

August 25th, 2010
12:33 am

This summer seems different from summers past, its nice to look and see players that are actually excited to be here. Call me a sheep but I think our Shepard, the kind Mr Dudley, has finally led us to greener pastures. So far he has done much better than his buddy, D-Wad, and I for one think he has a trick or two up his sleeve before the season starts.
Have faith fellow Thrasher sheeple – we are at slightly different ground than we ever have been before – there are others who will say this is nothing but “more of the same” but living a life where you expect nothing but the worst all the time is not truly living life at all.

Brendan

August 25th, 2010
12:55 am

Hmmn. Interesting blog by Rawhide, and very intriguing comments by the regular posters. I have read them all. It’s an interesting mix. Here’s my take. If I’m Lee Stempniak, I tore it up in Phoenix after the trade. Why leave?? Seriously. Okay. Okay. I hear ya. “Brendan, are the Phoenix Coyotes, and their two playoff series wins in their entire 30-season history, the “sure fire” solution for a guy like Stempniak?” Heavy sigh. Well, all I can tell you is … despite a terrible ownership situation, with threat of relocation hanging over their heads, and Gretzky out of the picture, the last thing I thought I’d see … is the Phoenix Coyotes as the #4 seed, challenging for their division championship. And yet, that’s what happened. And had the Coyotes ‘dropped a few’ to the Kings and Preds down the stretch, they could have avoided # 5 Detroit in the opening round. I know. “Throwing games is unnatural. Not to mention, ‘wrong.’ Bygones. The Yotes gave the mighty Red Wings a pretty good series, nonetheless. So, back to Stempniak … if it was working, why change? The only answer I can really come up with is … if he believes the team is leaving … and prefers to avoid that possibility down the road, then that’d be a reason. If he feels the ownership isn’t committed enough, that’d be another reason. But are the Atlanta Thrashers the NEXT BEST option? Uhhh, answering truthfully, I wouldn’t think so. However, I do think Stempniak could get, perhaps, BETTER MINUTES here than on a contending team. That’d be a reason, not to mention the better money, to come to Thrasherville.

Now, I don’t think Dudley wants this guy. There, I said it. I think Dudley is a TRADER. Evidence certainly points to that. We’re the Atlanta Devil-Hawks. And I don’t think he’s done. Don’t look at Elias. Keep your eyes on Travis Zajac. He’s a contract we can afford, if the Devils pay Kovalchuk his market value. Trouble is, Lou will not move Zajac without it looking like he robbed us blind. But Lou must move players, if Kovy is to make $8 million or more. So, Dudley waits. And waits. And waits. And he’ll have to contemplate just how much and how badly he wants Zajac. I’m sure Lou would want to unload Rolston ($5 million) and/or Zubrus ($3.4 million for the next 3 years) instead. Elias, I believe, but won’t swear to, has a no trade clause. Elias costs, I imagine, around $5 million-a-year, for the next three years. At 34, that makes him 37 by the time the contract ends. Ummn, no. Rolston is 37 years old, if not older. I wouldn’t even take him as “sweetener.” Dainius Zubrus is 32, with three years left on his deal. Once again, that makes him 35 by the time the contract concludes. Is this how we get younger? Elias, Zubrus, and Rolston???? You gotta be kidding me. And those players cost good coin, no matter HOW MUCH cap space we have. Look folks, you can agree with me or not. But I’m telling you … that when player hits 34/35 years of age … they become highly susceptible to injury. They slow down, too. If we’re to trade with the Devils, we must look at 25-year old Travis Zajac. We’re weak up the middle. Zajac can help us. Lou doesn’t want to part with him. If we get Zajac, he’ll cost $3.5 million next year, $4.5 million the year after that, and $4.8 million in 2013. That’s roughly a $4.26 million cap hit. Travis Zajack is only 25 years of age. He’ll be a UFA in 2013, and potentially gone. So, with that in mind, how many draft picks and/or prospects are we willing to part with to make it happen, for only 3 years worth of service. Two and half, if we’re forced to “salvage him” at the 2013 trade deadline. I repeat, Lou won’t give ‘im up for a song, or simply because he has to, cap-wise. Sweet Lou is one of the best GM’s in the league … because even in these ‘pressure situations,’ where he might well be flush against the cap, he’ll find a way out, that still leaves the franchise in good shape for the coming years. Marty Brodeur can’t last forever. And when he’s gone, the Devils will need a suitable replacement. Unless Lou’s drafted a goalie, waiting in the wings, as the heir apparent, he’ll either have to trade for one … or pluck one off the free agent market. I don’t know if Lou would have any interest in Pavelec. But if he did, that makes things interesting. Jose Theodore, I notice, is still un-signed. Antii Niemi is without a team for next season. (Perhaps, Montreal is looking at him, with a risky situation with Carey Price and no Halak, and Auld as the backup.) Who knows? Maybe the Atlanta roster is set, and I’m just kidding myself. I do, so badly, want to believe that we’ll have a budget that reflects a serious effort at making the playoffs this year. And Sage is about to rip me for that comment.

Alan R.

August 25th, 2010
2:09 am

IDWT = Idiots Don’t Win Titles

Thrashers27

August 25th, 2010
2:19 am

Next time anybody starts feeling like the Thrashers are constantly an “also ran”, or “runner-up”, please refer to this “Little” tidbit…

http://www.hockeybuzz.com/blog/Mike-Augello/MISSED-JUST-BY-A-NOSE/120/29882

Sometimes we’re the dog that has his day.

World Be Free

August 25th, 2010
5:50 am

Stanley-still don’t know how the Devs will fit Parise under the cap next season.

World Be Free

August 25th, 2010
5:54 am

Biltong, that was good. Band is not always a safe haven when you gave 200+ kids, boys and girls. Chaperoning those kids on long trips turned out to be challenging.

kracker

August 25th, 2010
7:33 am

That is an interesting opinion piece about the drafting of Bryan Little, Thrashers27. It is having just such turns of events go in your favor more times than not that separate the competent franchises from those that flounder. Don Waddell gets the credit for a good selection on that pick.

Flames

August 25th, 2010
7:38 am

Patients my friends, Patients….Is this fun or what! I would love to get Carter From Philadelphia or Zajac or Parise from the New Jersey.

SomaAtl95-I truly loved your last blog. It’s time we all start living! This is going to be an exciting season for the Thrashers. The Players are actually excited about this team. I have spoken with several players over the past couple of days and they are just excited as we are.

I have said all along that I think a trade is in the works. I don’t think Duds is through. One of the players told me that Alex Burmistrov is the real deal. The Thrashers future is a bright one.

Rhythmpenguin

August 25th, 2010
7:40 am

Brendan, I like your thinking, but I don’t see us trading Pavs. I think Dudley has some faith in him and wants to keep him around for another year or two (hence his 2 year contract) and (hopefully) watch him blossom, especially with good tutalage from Mason and Malarchuck. Maybe he would trade Mason and sign another starter that’s still out there, but I don’t think it’s likely. I think Our goal tending is pretty set. We definitely have room for a top six forward, but don’t necessarily need one. We have something to talk about in August! =)

kracker

August 25th, 2010
7:44 am

That is some sweet music to hear, Flames!! The players are excited…there are more moves to come…our #1 pick is the real deal and perhaps will be ready to go this season, or for sure by next year. Drop the puck already!!!

IDWT

Rhythmpenguin

August 25th, 2010
7:44 am

This may open a con of worms but…who do you think is more likely to make the team, Burmistrov or Cormier and why? I really like Burmistrov and don’t know much about Cormier.

Rhythmpenguin

August 25th, 2010
7:46 am

IDWTWA: I Don’t Want To Wait Anymore! Start the Season!

kracker

August 25th, 2010
7:53 am

Brendan, Niemi was thought by some to be a possibility for here, making Pavs expendable id Dudley chose to go that way. But wouldn’t a GM just sign Niemi instead of trading assets for Pavs? Who knows, though, some GM may really favor Pavs over Niemi? Tthe Hawks apparently were not high enough on Niemi to fit him in for $2.75M.

If we are talking about moves that Dudley could still pull the trigger on, can anyone believe the coveted Byron Young is still on the table??

Flames

August 25th, 2010
7:54 am

Rhythmpenguin-I know that Duds is real high on Cormier. I think he will start the season in the ATL. I wouldn’t be surprise if Burmistrov is called up during the season. The kid is working his butt off. He looks great! I believe he will start the season in Chicago.