Tag:Steven Stamkos
Posted on: July 19, 2011 3:32 pm
Edited on: July 19, 2011 4:32 pm
 

Lightning, Stamkos agree on five-year extension

By Brian Stubits

The Tampa Bay Lightning have reached an agreement with superstar center Steven Stamkos on a five-year contract. The team made the announcement on Tuesday afternoon.

"Very exciting day for my family and I," Stamkos said on his Twitter account. "Can't thank Mr. Vinik, Mr. Yzerman and the rest of the organization for making this deal possible. Also want to thank my family, friends, agents, teammates, and fans for all their love and support!"

According to Craig Custance of the Sporting News the deal will pay Stamkos an average annual salary of $7.5 million per season, which comes out to a total of $37.5 million. He'll be eligible for unrestricted free agency when the contract expires after the 2015-16 season.

Said general manager Steve Yzerman in a statement released by the team, "Steven is extremely important to this franchise and is part of the foundation of our hockey team. We are very pleased to have him signed and look forward to seeing him in a Lightning uniform for years to come.”

It brings an end to a long saga that had plenty of twists and turns, most made out of fear since it took so long for a deal to be reached. Although the Flyers did contemplate sending an offer sheet Stamkos' way before ultimately passing.

Of course in Stamkos, the former No. 1 overall draft pick, the Lightning are holding on to the league's top goal-scorer over the past two seasons as the 21-year-old has tallied 96 goals in that time frame. He represents not only the future of the Lightning, but perhaps the NHL. Remember, he was recently bestowed the honor of having his mug grace the cover of the video game NHL '12.

The Lightning were determined to get a deal reached with Stamkos, and Stevie Y never waivered on that, saying his team would match any offer sheet if one did come. Alas, it didn't come to that, instead reaching a deal that seems very fair to the team and Stamkos.

He will receive $8 million in the first four years of the contract and then $5 million in the final season. At that point, under the current CBA at least, he will be free to test to the free-agent waters unrestricted at the ripe age of 26, when he figures to be in the prime of his career. If no extension is signed before that point with Tampa Bay, can you imagine the frenzy for him? It would put the Brad Richards courtship to shame.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: July 8, 2011 10:51 am
Edited on: July 11, 2011 9:26 am
 

The paradoxical world of restricted free agency

By Brian Stubits

It's almost like a bad Jerry Seinfeld joke: "And what is the deal with restricted free agency? They're free agents but no team feels free to sign them!"

Surely, Seinfeld could provide a better punch line, but you get the point. I'm starting to wonder why the NHL even bothers with offer sheets. Teams are apparently too afraid to use them, not wanting to violate what has become one of sports' infamous unwritten rules, joining not stealing bases with a big lead in baseball and not running up the score in football.

Now, there are multiple reasons for it. Yes, it seems to be generally frowned upon by GMs, a scorn that lingers and the threat of future relations being strained. That's the unwritten rule part. But there is also a tangible side, the angle of offers being futile. Teams always say they will match any offer sheet and keep their restricted free agent. Plus, there's the compensation. All legitimate drawbacks/hurdles. But enough to create a freeze?

Take this year's prime RFA Steven Stamkos as an example. Is there a more promising prospect in hockey? He's only 21 and he has the most goals scored in the NHL over the past two seasons. As of now, he's still unsigned by the Tampa Bay Lightning who insist they will keep Stamkos no matter the cost or offer sheet.

As far as we know, no team has submitted an offer sheet to Stamkos. Granted, we would only know if Stamkos signed a sheet or a team admitted to tendering an offer, but it doesn't appear as if there has been any movement on Stamkos. Only the Flyers seem to have even come close, having numerous internal debates before deciding to pass.

Or how about Kings defenseman Drew Doughty?

L.A. GM Dean Lombardi recently told the L.A. Times that the negotiations could "take a while." So if the sides are so far apart, why wouldn't some team take a shot? Doughty is as good a young d-man you will find across the NHL. At the age of 20 he had 16 goals and 43 assists. Last season he tallied 11 goals and 29 assists. Now who wouldn't want to try for that?

The idea of getting a superstar through restricted free agency is almost non-existent. No team will surrender a superstar when they have a rebuttal at their disposal. But if nothing else, you force another team's hand. Imagine throwing out an offer so steep that it will cripple the other team's financial status. The way I see it, anything that hurts my rivals helps me.

Since the summer of '05, only six offers have even been tendered. Only once did the controlling team not match. You might remember when Edmonton pried Dustin Penner away from the Ducks. It left then-Ducks GM Brian Burke irate, lambasting Oilers GM Kevin Lowe, saying "I have no problem with offer sheets. They’re part of the CBA [Collective Bargaining Agreement]. But in my opinion, Edmonton has offered a mostly inflated salary for a player, and I think it’s an act of desperation for a general manager who is fighting to keep his job."

"The bottom line is there are the tools at your disposal," former Flames GM Craig Button told NHL.com about restricted free agency. "You just have to understand the future ramifications."

Look, I understand the point of offer sheets. The league is interested in keeping young superstars with their teams at least for the early portion their careers. And, ya know, they don't have contracts with their teams any more.

I guess I'm just left wishing for more movement on RFAs. Think of the added intrigue. The Panthers trying to take Stamkos out of Tampa Bay? Suddenly you might have some actual teeth into the Sunshine State rivalry beyond a geographic connection. Or imagine the Ducks making a play on Doughty (just pretend) ... we could have Battle Los Angeles again, except this time it would actually be good.

There are legitimate points as to why restricted free agency exists. There are an equal number of points as to why teams don't tender offers. Eventually it leaves you feeling as if it is pointless. Funny.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: July 7, 2011 7:37 pm
Edited on: July 8, 2011 11:46 am
 

Improvement your team needs to make the playoffs

By: Adam Gretz

Under the direction of first year coach Guy Boucher and the front office leadership of Steve Yzerman, the Tampa Bay Lightning made a 23-point improvement in the standings from 2009-10 to 2010-11. That improvement was enough to take them from the 12th spot in the Eastern Conference in 2009 to the No. 5 playoff seed in 2010.

From there, the Lightning eliminated the top two favorites in the East -- Pittsburgh and Washington -- and took the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins to a seventh game in the Conference Finals, falling one goal short of completing what would have been an almost improbable run to the finals.

Perhaps even more impressive than the jump in the standings was how much they improved their goal differential from one season to the next.

During the 2009-10 campaign the Lightning were outscored by 43 goals over the course of the season, the third-worst mark in the league. In 2010-11, the Lightning actually outscored their opponents by seven goals, which was an improvement of 50 goals, the largest jump in the entire league. The second-best improvement belonged to Boston, which improved its differential by 45 goals (going from plus-6 to plus-51).

The 1-3-1 system of Boucher, an MVP-caliber season from Martin St. Louis, the continued development of Steven Stamkos and a number of astute additions (like the mid-season trade for goaltender Dwayne Roloson) helped the Lightning to score 30 more goals and allow 20 fewer than they did the previous year.

A team's goal differential is important. The more you outscore your opponents the more games you're going to win and the more points you're going to accumulate in the standings. Every team that made the playoffs this past season had a positive goal differential, and of the 16 teams, 10 of them outscored their opponents by at least 20 goals. I've found in recent years that tends to be the magic number to pretty much guarantee yourself a spot in the playoffs.

Since the 1999-00 season 113 teams have finished the regular season with a goal differential of plus-20 or better, with 111 of them qualifying for the playoffs. The only two clubs that didn't were the 2006-07 Avalanche, which missed the postseason by one point in the standings (every team that qualified ahead of them in the Western Conference had a better goal differential) and the 2000-01 Oilers, who missed by two points in the standings.

Over the past two offseasons I've taken the non-playoff teams and looked at how much of an improvement they needed to make in order to reach that magic number, and here's an updated list taking a look at last year's non-playoff team and how much they will need to improve to hit the plus-20 mark. Keep in mind, it is possible to make the playoffs with a mark worse than that, but we're just looking at what it's going to take to all but guarantee a trip to the postseason.

Improving goal differential
Team 2010-11 Differential Improvement Needed
Calgary Flames +13 +7
St. Louis Blues +6 +14
Carolina Hurricanes -3 +23
Dallas Stars -6 +26
Minnesota Wild -27 +47
Toronto Maple Leafs -33 +53
Florida Panthers -34 +54
New Jersey Devils -35 +55
New York Islanders -35 +55
Columbus Blue Jackets -43 +63
Winnipeg Jets -46 +66
Ottawa Senators -58 +78
Colorado Avalanche -61 +81
Edmonton Oilers -76 +96

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: June 27, 2011 5:31 pm
Edited on: June 27, 2011 6:28 pm
 

Stamkos atop restricted free-agent class

Here we are, just days away from July 1, and Steven Stamkos still doesn't have a contract for next season. Come Friday, he will be a restricted free agent if no extension is reached with the Lightning before then. Stamkos says they're close, but as of yet no deal is done.

So will there be a stampede for Stamkos, a young superstar who has been the NHL's leading goal scorer over the past two seasons? Don't hold your breath.

If Stamkos is still unsigned comed Friday, teams will have the option of extending him an offer sheet, at which point Tampa Bay would have the option to match. And make no mistake, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman will match. He is indicated that there really isn't a level he won't go to to keep his star.

Perhaps you're thinking if a team has a ton of money, why not call Yzerman's bluff, see if he truly means it? If nothing else, you force Tampa Bay to handicap the rest of its roster by committing more than it had afforded to signing Stamkos. Take the Panthers, for example. GM Dale Tallon has to spend $26 million just to reach the salary cap floor, so he has a ton of money to throw around at this point. Couldn't he set out to damage his division rivals by either taking away their best player (and giving the Panthers a star of their own) or hampering Yzerman's efforts to build his roster by offering Stamkos, say $12 million annually?

The answer is of course he could, but it's unlikely he would. Or any other team for that matter. Why? In the hypothetical world where the Lightning don't match and let Stamkos go, they would still get compensation. For Stamkos, the going rate would be four first-round draft picks going back to the Lightning. Stamkos is elite, but that's a heavy, heavy price to pay, in addition to the money committed to paying Stamkos.

So there's a reason why nobody -- except Maple Leafs fans -- has their hopes too high for Stamkos. Then again, you never know what might happen.

Among the other top RFAs this season, both Nashville's Shea Weber and New Jersey's Zach Parise have dates with arbitration after the teams filed, meaning they are off the market while the teams try to negotiate contract extensions. It's hard to imagine either player going as far as arbitration, but if they do, it's even less fathomable the teams would decline to give the player the award. Point being, don't expect to see either guy in a new sweater any time soon, barring trade, of course. These are the types of guys that you imagine will do what they need to do so as not to lose such cornerstones.

Now just because Stamkos seems like a sure bet to remain in Tampa, that doesn't mean other RFAs can't be pried away from their current teams.

Here are the top restricted free agents (in alphabetical order).

Artem Anisimov, Brian Boyle, Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky -- New York Rangers: The young Rangers all scored at least 18 goals for the Blueshirts last season, led by Dubinsky's team-high 24. The quartet could be described as the future of the franchise.

Drew Doughty -- Los Angeles: The 21-year-old defenseman has already reached All-Star status and is one of the better offensive defensemen in the league already.

Sergei Kostitsyn -- Nashville: The other RFA they have to deal with in Music City, Kostitsyn scored 23 goals and pitched in with 27 assists, having the best shooting percetage in the NHL out of those with at least 25 shots.

Andrew Ladd -- Winnipeg: Ladd was sent to Atlanta from Chicago after the cap-strapped Blackhawks couldn't retain him. In one season for the Thrashers, he had 29 goals, nine on the power play, and 30 assists.

Brad Marchand -- Boston: The rookie really broke out in the playoffs, when he scored 11 goals for the B's on their way to the Stanley Cup, the second most for a rookie in the postseason ever behind only Jeremy Roenick.

Keith Yandle -- Phoenix: A great puck-moving defenseman, he could perhaps be a target of the Bruins in his hometown of Boston. Yandle had 11 goals and a whopping 48 assists for the Coyotes last season.

Others to watch: Zach Bogosian (WPG), Troy Brouwer (WAS), Michael Frolik (CHI), Clarke MacArthur (TOR), Blake Wheeler (WPG), Mike Santorelli (FLA), Blake Comeau (NYI), Teddy Purcell (TB), Semyon Varlamov (WAS)

2011 Restricted Free Agent Compensation
Annual Cap Hit Compensation
Less than $1,034,250 None
$1,034,250 - $1,567,043 Third-round pick
$1,567,044 - $3,134,088 Second-round pick
$3,134,089 - $4,701,131 First- and third-round picks
$4,701,132 - $6,268,175 First-, second- and third-round picks
$6,268,176 -- $7,835,219 Two first-round picks, second- and third-round picks
More than $7,835,219 Four first-round picks

-- Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl on Twitter or @BrianStubitsNHL

Posted on: June 24, 2011 10:39 am
 

Daily Skate: Winnipeg name today? Flyers not done

PEGGING A NAME: True North CEO Jim Ludlow told the Winnipeg Sun that a name for the team has to be announced very soon. Then Darren Dreger of TSN tweeted early Friday that Winnipeg was expected to release the name just before making the seventh pick in tonight's NHL Draft. Now clearly the overwhelming crowd favorite has been to bring back the name and logo of the Jets. Other names that have been floated around include the Falcons, Moose, Ice Bears and my personal favorite from the Twittersphere, the Phoenix. The question is which name would be best?

TAKING OFF: Philadelphia still has a lot to come after Thursday's flurry. Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News says the Flyers would love to move even higher in tonight's draft (they're at No. 8 after trading Jeff Carter to Columbus) as they covet Swedish winger Gabriel Landeskog. Now he figures to go No. 2 or No. 3 overall, so Philly would have to make a move to get him. One potential could be a deal with Dale Tallon and Florida at No. 3, who have been in talks about moving up as well as down. Yesterday there was a lot of smoke building about reuniting Kris Versteeg and Tallon via trade, and Seravalli says it makes a lot of sense, especially when you swap the team's first picks. If the Flyers don't go that route ... or even if they do ... they might take a serious shot at pulling Steven Stamkos from Tampa Bay if a new deal isn't signed by July 1. Far-fetched, but a possibility.

OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN: When the Flyers made their two trades yesterday, it didn't really enter GM Paul Holmgren's mind that he was shipping the team captain out of town. But one of myriad questions now for Philly is who wears the C next? CSN Philly says all signs point to Chris Pronger, who is no stranger to being captain, a position he held while playing in Anaheim and St. Louis. But Danny Briere (Buffalo) and Kimmo Timonen (Nashville) have also been captains at one point in the NHL and Timonen currently wears an A on his sweater.

SENATORIAL CAMPAIGN: For the first time in the franchise's history, the Ottawa Senators begin the process of rebuilding tonight. Since building up from an expansion franchise, the team hasn't been in a situation quite like this and the Sens have an arsenal of draft picks at their disposal, having 12 spread out over the seven rounds. That means there is little to no way the Senators don't leave the draft a) having stockpiled their organization with prospects or b) having made a tremendous impact on their roster and the draft by making some moves. Either way, silversevensens makes the argument this is the most important draft in Ottawa's history.

SOCAL HAS HART: In true Southern California style, Corey Perry took his two new trophies -- those would be the Hart and Rocket Richard -- to the Santa Monica pier for a photo op. Jeff Miller of the OC Register relayed a great story from the scenes where a little boy asked if they were celebrating a championship. When he was told no, that Perry was the MVP, the boy responded, "So he's like Kobe Bryant?" Kind of, kid, especially with that killer instinct he showed in the clutch this season.

-- Brian Stubits

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl on Twitter or @BrianStubitsNHL

Posted on: June 22, 2011 10:53 am
Edited on: June 22, 2011 11:02 am
 

Stamkos thinks new deal with Lightning is close

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

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl on Twitter or @BrianStubitsNHL

Posted on: June 17, 2011 3:25 pm
Edited on: June 17, 2011 6:53 pm
 

Goalie Smith hits homer as Bolts take some BP

The Tampa Bay Lightning were honored by the Tampa Bay Rays before their game on Thursday and some of them took batting practice before the game.

Steven Stamkos, Teddy Purcell, Nate Thompson and Mike Smith all took some cuts in the cage and threw out the first pitch(es) before the Rays played the Red Sox. I'm trying to figure out the most amazing thing about this part of the story: Smith, who had never hit a baseball before, belted a home run into the bleachers in left.

I understand he's from Canada and all, but never hitting a baseball? That's tough in and of itself to swallow. But hitting one into the stands your first time swinging a baseball bat? Incredible.

"Dream come true," Smith said. "It felt like butter coming off the bat. I've always wanted to try that. Close my eyes and swung, and it went out. I'm pretty proud."

Rays manager Joe Maddon was pretty impressed by it. "That was well struck," he said.

Purcell didn't have as much luck when stepping to the plate. "I don't really know what I'm doing," Purcell said. "So I'm just swinging for the fences." Good luck with that swing, Teddy!

As for Stamkos, the restricted free agent everybody wants to know about, well his day was just about baseball. A shortstop growing up, Stamkos didn't look like a fish out of water, sending a couple of balls deep to the outfield. He said that he now appreciates how tough baseball is.

Of course, Smith is probably wondering what the big deal is. He did get one other taste of big-league ball. After rounding the bases for his home run trot, he was greeted with a shaving cream pie to the face.

Ah yes, the joys of the offseason.

-- Brian Stubits

Posted on: May 27, 2011 11:42 pm
Edited on: May 28, 2011 8:55 am
 

Lightning have decisions to make to keep cracking

Hats off to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

You'd be hard pressed to find anybody before the season that saw this coming. It was clear they were getting better, and the vibe around the organization improved dramatically with the addition of Steve Yzerman to the front office, but Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals? That's exceeding expectations.

But here's the funny part. You look at this team and you don't see a group of over-achievers. It was a rapid improvement, but you don't get the sense this was a fluke. No, the Lightning are that good.

The question now becomes, will they be able to stay this good?

This offseason, Stevie Y will have his work cut out for him. For starters, there is the issue of Steven Stamkos. The budding superstar is a restricted free agent this year and you better believe there will be teams sending offer sheets his way if the two sides can't work out a deal in the next few weeks -- you have to think a deal being reached in the next two weeks is the most likely outcome. Obviously if he goes the loss is tremendous, but if he stays, the impact will be felt elsewhere as he is due a significant pay raise.

Even with the salary cap going up next season, the Bolts won't be able to keep all of their big players on the roster. Between Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, Ryan Malone, Mattias Ohlund and Pavel Kubina, that's $30 million, or roughly half of next season's salary cap, depending on the final cap number.

In addition to Stamkos, one of the team's playoff Stars, Teddy Purcell, will also be a restricted free agent while the biggest playoff surprise of them all, Sean Bergenheim, will be unrestricted. Same goes for Simon Gagne.

With their midseason acquisition of Dwayne Roloson, the Bolts helped solve what had been a bit of a riddle for them in net. In relief of him, Mike Smith was very solid. Both of them, too, are scheduled to hit the open market as unrestricted free agents. After dealing with Stamkos, that'll be the second priority, figuring out who will be minding the net.

This season, Yzerman showed a bit of a golden touch so early in his career leading the Lightning, so we'll learn further this offseason if he's as good as gold. The Lightning still have a solid foundation, but seeing if he can lock up the franchise cornerstone and getting the players to fit the mold will be something worth watching in the coming months. The good news is the team does start the offseason with a little bit of room under the current cap.

-- Brian Stubits

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com