All had been quiet on the Steven Stamkos restricted free agent front. Apparently, that’s just now GM Steve Yzerman likes it.
Without a new deal, Stamkos would be able to receive offer sheets from other organizations looking to snare the Lightning star from Tampa Bay. At that point Yzerman would be able to -- and certainly would do it -- match any offer. It just means that keeping Stamkos long term could come at a higher price than the team hoped for.
To this point, there has been little-to-no news about the negotiations, which does little to soothe Tampa Bay fans’ fears. But, alas, we have an update on the talks.
"I think it's close," Stamkos said from Las Vegas, where he is for tonight's NHL awards show (7 ET on Versus). "I don't think it's far off. As close as we are, it's not something I'm really worried about.
"Tampa is a great organization. With the success we had this year, there are only going to be bigger and better things. You want to be part of that. Whatever happens, happens, but I have confidence things are going to get done well before [July 1]."
Damian Cristodero of the St. Petersburg Times thinks it will cost about $7 million a year.
Now nobody in his right mind truly believed Stamkos would be playing anywhere but Tampa next season. It’s just that when negotiations are held out of the media the way these have been, the hometown fans begin getting paranoid that their burgeoning 21-year-old star, who has led the NHL in goals over the last two seasons, will be taken away by a team like Toronto.
At the same time, every passing day increases the pipe dreams of fans from afar, drooling at the idea of acquiring a prolific, young scorer. Well, put your tongues back in your mouths, everybody.
I’m beginning to feel like Kevin Bacon: “Remain calm. All is well!”
-- Brian Stubits