Stamkos just finished out a five-year deal worth $7.5 million annually, so the star center is only getting a modest raise to stay put in Tampa Bay. Still, it seems that Stamkos has passed up potentially higher earnings with an even greater focus on winning his first Stanley Cup. After the Bolts were ousted by the Penguins after seven games in the conference finals this past offseason, Stamkos said, "We have some unfinished business." Stamkos dealt with a blood clot near his right collarbone that required surgery last April, though he ended up playing in Game 7 against the Pens, plus the issue didn't stop several teams from showing interest in his services.
Talk about a stunner. All was quiet from the Stamkos camp just two days before start of the July 1 signing period, but now the stud center reaches a long-term deal to stay in Tampa. Stammer averaged $7.5 million against the cap on his previous five-year deal, so it's not like he's getting a significant earnings bump -- there were rumors that Buffalo was prepared to offer him $12 million in free agency. Fantasy owners should still nab Stamkos very early ahead of the 2016-17 season; since he stayed put, you know what to expect from him, plus he'll once again have the uber-talented Nikita Kucherov at his side.
Representatives for Stamkos reportedly have begun talking to other teams with the Maple Leafs, Sabres and Red Wings said to be leading contenders to acquire the stud center once the signing period opens this Friday. As for the Lightning, a sign-and-trade deal would make sense if retaining Stamkos looks to be a lost cause -- that way, the Bolts would at least stand to acquire asset(s) in return. Thanks to a full no-move clause, the 26-year-old can be selective on his next landing spot. It's no guarantee that Stamkos will leave the Lightning, as the next team likely will have to raise the ante on the $7.5 million he averaged annually over five years of his now-expiring contract.
Nothing has changed in contract talks between
General manager Steve Yzerman was blunt on Day 2 of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft -- both sides are very clear on their positions and nothing had changed. There were rumors swirling that the Bolts had upped their offer to more than $9 million a season, but that seems unfounded. Teams can now talk to free agents -- they just can't ink a deal. And Sabres general manager Tim Murray told Sportsbet, "We're going to chase the big fish." Don't count out the Sabres, Red Wings and surprisingly, the Rangers in the Stamkos deal.
There haven't been any conversations between general manager Steve Yzerman and Stammer's agents at Newport Sports since before the trade deadline. Despite that reported eight-year deal with an $8.5 million annual average, he has still not put ink on paper. Stamkos insists that any assertion the NHLPA is pressuring him to strike a bigger deal this summer is "completely false," but there have been suggestions he could earn as much as $10-11 million a season. At this point, there's little incentive for Stamkos to sign a deal until July 1 and that may actually fit the team's plans anyway -- it has several other players it needs to sign in the next few years.