General manager Steve Yzerman stated yesterday that captain Steven Stamkos would not be traded before the February 29th trade deadline, “As February 29th approaches, I am stating today that Steven Stamkos will not be traded before the NHL’s trade deadline. I have said repeatedly that it is our hope to reach an agreement with Steven on a new contract at some point, and with 27 games remaining in the season, our entire organization, Steven included, wants to focus on making the playoffs. I will keep the negotiating process strictly between the involved parties and have no further comment on the state of those negotiations.”- Steve Yzerman
Stamkos is currently in the final months of a five year $37.5 million dollar contract, carrying a $7.5 million salary cap charge in 2015-16. Sources say that he could be the fourth player to receive a salary of at least $10 million dollars per season. Stamkos will stay close in talks with the GM to try to come to a final deal until July 1st when he could become an unrestricted free agent. Steven also has a no-movement clause in his deal. Since July 1st of last year he has been able to sign with Tampa for as long as eight years but, if he extends out to the open market, he would only be able to sign with another team after July 1st this year for a maximum of seven years. Take these two statements into account. Tampa Bay can have a captain for 8 more seasons to come. He’s not just a captain, but a dynamic player who has the ability to put up 90, yes I said 90, points a season. He’s definitely up there with the best, and if you put a couple young guys around them they could grow to his benefit on the ice and lead the team to playoffs to come.
Previously, there were rumors of where Stamkos would land. Some said he might be heading to Toronto to be a Maple Leaf. Toronto traded captain Dion Phaneuf in a nine-player deal on Tuesday seemingly making room for another big player. Now, with more positive thoughts from an authority such as the GM, the Lightning look to keep focus on the playoff push. Currently Stamkos is 2nd on the team in goals with 22 and points with 42, only trailing Nikita Kucherov by 6 points with 48. When compared with the rest of the league, he is 38th in points and 15th in goals. These numbers would project to be his worst full season totals dating back to the 2008-09 season when he was a rookie. Tampa Bay as a team currently sit in the second wildcard spot in the east to make their way into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They need not only Stamkos, but also a full team effort to round out the season with a few big wins against contending Eastern Conference teams going forward.
Overall, the Lighting have stayed loyal with Stamkos by keeping in close contact with him in recent times. They don’t want to have to adjust another guy to their system when they already have one here and a good one. And, it is only to the benefit of the player, Steven Stamkos, himself to stay here in Tampa to get a better, longer contract. A couple wins here during the rest of the season, and the Lightning are right in there for the playoffs. Tampa has games against New Jersey and Pittsburgh through the end of the season who are also close in the Wildcard race. Lets not forget they are the reigning Eastern Conference Champions. Clearly the whole team has been preforming and the stress of losing Stamkos is decreasing by the day. Look out for the Lightning come playoff time.
Cover Photo via ESPN