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Netcrashing: Who should go after Stamkos or Doughty?

TSN.ca Staff

7/13/2011 3:39:40 PM

It's two weeks into the free agent season and two notable unsigned names stand out.

It's not so much news that Steven Stamkos and Drew Doughty - two of the leagues brightest young stars and consensus cornerstone franchise building blocks - don't have a contract.

It's that the two restricted free agents haven't been offered a contract by any other team interested in their services.

According to capgeek.com, there are six teams currently operating under the salary cap floor of $48 million and nowhere near the salary cap maximum of $64 million.

The team with the furthest gap to reach the floor is the New York Islanders, a team that's more than $10 million below the floor. They are followed by the Nashville Predators ($7.091M), Colorado Avalanche ($3.095M), Phoenix Coyotes ($2.781M), Winnipeg Jets ($2.458M) and Carolina Hurricanes ($752K).

Now we all know the rules of restricted free agency - a team can sign a player to an offer sheet, leaving the player's original team the opportunity to match the deal. If the offer is matched, the player remains with his original club with the terms from the offer sheet becoming his contract.

Should the team refuse to match that deal, the player moves on to his new team, and draft picks are sent over as compensation depending on how much the new contract is worth. It's considered the price to pay for doing business.

That's not exactly a steep price for a team like the Islanders, whose list of prominent franchise-altering gems practically begins and ends with John Tavares.

While the Predators find themselves in this position to lock up Shea Weber to a long-term deal, the Avalanche could use another stud to go with their growing stable of young talent. However, Colorado traded their 2012 first round draft pick to the Washington Capitals to acquire Semyon Varlamov, making them ineligible to tender an offer sheet. But they could work out a trade like the Toronto Maple Leafs did to acquire Phil Kessel from the Boston Bruins.

The ownership situation would make spending any type of big money out of the question in Phoenix, but Winnipeg could make a gigantic splash - or at least show the willingness to go for it right now, by stepping up to the plate.

In the end, the worst that could happen is that you lose out on an elite player. But the reward could be the addition of a player who could become a cornerstone of the franchise for years to come.

Stamkos, 21, is coming off a 45-goal, 91-point campaign, after pouring in 51 goals the year before.

Doughty, meanwhile, was an All-Star in just his second season in the league. Even after what many considered an off-year last season, it's hard to deny that he is already one of the premier defencemen in the league at the tender age of 21.

It's widely believed that the Kings and Lightning will match any offers to their respective young stars, but which of these teams that need to add salary would benefit most from adding one of these two young stars?

You've heard what we've had to say, now tell us what you think: Which team below the salary cap floor should make a push to sign Stamkos or Doughty?