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Stamkos, Lightning may not be able to reach deal before free agency

Tampa’s all-time leader in goals, games, points, can become UFA on Monday

Steven Stamkos TBL contract status update


ByAmalie Benjamin
@AmalieBenjamin NHL.com Staff Writer

Steven Stamkos is three days from becoming an unrestricted free agent, and on Friday Tampa Bay Lightning general manager general manager Julien BriseBois said he’s not sure if the team and the center will reach an agreement on a new contract.


“If we had reached an agreement at this point, we would gladly have sent out a press release announcing that agreement,” BriseBois said. “So as we stand here right now, we haven’t been able to reach an agreement yet. I don’t know if we will be able to reach an agreement.


“But we met with Steven’s agents again yesterday. Both sides are still interested in getting a deal done, but we haven’t been able to agree to terms that are satisfactory for both sides.”


The 34-year-old, who signed an eight-year, $68 million contract ($8.5 million average annual value) on June 29, 2016, and is set to become an unrestricted free agent Monday.


His agent, Don Meehan, told Sportsnet's Pierre LeBrun, "He will be a free agent on July 1."


Stamkos was chosen with the No. 1 pick in the 2008 NHL Draft and was named captain March 6, 2014. He has been a member of the Lightning for the entirety of his 16-season career, playing 1,082 games for the Lightning, scoring 1,137 points (555 goals, 582 assists), including 81 points (40 goals, 41 assists) in 79 games this season.


He is Tampa Bay's all-time leader in games played, goals, points, even-strength goals (336), even-strength points (707), power-play goals (214), power-play points (422), overtime goals (13), game-winning goals (85) and shots (3,332).


Stamkos won the Stanley Cup twice with the Lightning, in 2020 and 2021, and has 101 points (50 goals, 51 assists) in 128 playoff games.


Faced with the question of what a losing Stamkos to free agency might look like, BriseBois said, “At this point, it’s premature to start answering those types of questions. If we get to that point, we’ll address it at that time.”


The Lightning are facing an NHL salary cap crunch for next season, which could lead to the end of Stamkos’ long and successful tenure with the only team he’s played for.


Asked whether the Lightning would be able to sign Stamkos without any corresponding moves, BriseBois said, “The honest answer is I don’t know. I don’t want to comment further. I don’t think it would add anything right now.


“Like I said, both sides are still interested in getting a deal done. We met as recently as yesterday with his agents. But as of now, we haven’t been able get a deal done and I don’t know if we will be able to reach an agreement.”


This is the second time Stamkos has gotten close to free agency without a contract. In 2016, he signed the eight-year deal two days before the start of free agency.


Stamkos had wanted to re-sign with the Lightning last summer, expressing frustration in training camp that the sides had not found common ground heading into the 2023-24 season.


"To be honest, I’ve been disappointed in the lack of talk in that regard,” Stamkos said on Sept. 20. “It was something that I expressed at the end of last year, that I wanted to get something done before training camp started. There haven’t been any conversations.

"I stated at the end of last year, too, I would love to extend and play here and finish out my career here, but that's out of my hands. I can't write the contract myself."


The sides sat down again after the Lightning were eliminated in the Eastern Conference First Round in five games by the Florida Panthers, with BriseBois calling signing Stamkos “obviously a priority” and saying that he was hopeful it would get done.


If the Lightning are not able to sign Stamkos, they will need to change course. Losing a 40-goal scorer would have a significant impact on their top six.


“We are working on different plans with different variable possible trade scenarios, possible free agent signings,” BriseBois said. “It’s not just about filling one hole, it’s about building the best team possible. So we’re looking at it more from a holistic approach and trying to build the best team possible to be as competitive as possible next season and in future years.”


BriseBois acknowledged that the Lightning struggled to keep opponents from scoring this season, while the offense finished fifth in the NHL in goals for per game at 3.51. They also had the top power play at 28.6 percent.


“Our biggest issue was keeping the puck out of our net,” BriseBois said. “I think we were 22nd in goals against (allowing 3.26 goals per game) and it’s really hard to win a championship if you’re 22nd in goals against.


“That’s been the focus is how do we get back to being a top-10 defensive team and then how do we best manage the pieces of this puzzle to do that?”


The Lightning already made a move to shore up their defense, re-acquiring defenseman Ryan McDonagh in a trade with the Nashville Predators on May 21. McDonagh spent the past two seasons with the Predators after spending four-plus seasons with the Lightning.


At the time of the trade, the Lightning said that his salary (two years remaining at $6.75 million per season) would not impact their ability to sign Stamkos, but the Lightning are expected to have a little more than $5 million in cap space heading into next season.


As free agency approaches, Stamkos is not the only player who the Lightning are talking to about a new contract.


Defenseman Victor Hedman has one year remaining on his eight-year, $63 million contract ($7.85 AAV) that he signed on July 1, 2016. Hedman had 76 points (13 goals, 63 assists) in 78 games this season, playing 24:48 per game.


“We’ve had discussions with Victor’s agents about an extension,” BriseBois said. “In his case, we have more runway before we have to get a deal done, as he still has one year left on his current agreement. That being said, the plan remains to be in a position to announce an agreement on a new contract for Victor in the coming days.”

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Bolts offered him 8 years at 3 million Per, and Stammer said no.


He was asking 4-5 mil depending on the term.


I could never see him playing anywhere but Tampa, but July 1st is coming soon.

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22 hours ago, Brewin Flames said:

Bolts offered him 8 years at 3 million Per, and Stammer said no.


He was asking 4-5 mil depending on the term.


I could never see him playing anywhere but Tampa, but July 1st is coming soon.


I REAAALLLY hope Julien Brisebois is just messing with other GM's.

Stamkos even at 5M is STILL a steal.
I was thinking Stammer might ask for 6M+, and was thinking that would be worth keeping him on for the duration of his career.

But if all his camp is asking for is something between 4-5M (even with longer term), I'd do that deal in a heartbeat if I were Brisbois, before Stamkos changes his mind and figures he can make MORE with another contender elsewhere!

People will look at Stamkos' age and go, "Well, you know, you don't want to give a 34 year old too much term".
And they'd be right most of the time...HOWEVER...due to the injuries and missed time Stamkos has had over the years, and the fact he keeps himself in god-like physical condition, his 34 yr old body doesn't have the same NHL wear n tear that another guy his age, who has played 75-80 games a year regularly, might have.

While being injured and missing time over the course of his career sucked, and it undermines his end-of-career stats, fact is, it was sort of a blessing in disguise as now he is 34...but with probably the gas tank of a 30 year old still on his finely maintained body!

Give him his damned 5M, Julien!
Give him a 5 or 6 year contract that will take him to age 38-39 and let him retire a Bolt!
I get the feeling he will continue to be productive even in those later years, and it will keep the good will amongst the team that the organization really DOES care about their leaders and lifetime players!

My understanding is Hedman is gonna re-sign an extension...Stammer needs to be WITH him on this team!

Edited by TropicalFruitGirl26
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30 minutes ago, Brewin Flames said:

If you offered him 4 years at 5 million, it would be a done deal quick.


Or so I would think....

Like I said..even with a 5 or 6 year (yes, too much for most players) it would be worth it for him because he still produces.
He will never hit 50 or 60 goals a year again, but I'd take 30+ or so from him for the next couple years, and 20-25 from him as an 'old man', to go along with the amount of assists he usually racks up too.

All very possible from him.

If he were some broken down (or breaking down) mess of an athlete with heart, but not much left physically, I can see the hesitation....sentiments be damned.
But what the Bolts still have there is fine piece of man hockey meat who can still go!

He needs a contract and this &^%$ing around needs to stop already...

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