On a day that saw a couple of teams dramatically changed the look of their roster by trading franchise players, the Tampa Bay Lightning found out their franchise player is staying with the team after Steven Stamkos signed an eight-year contract.
Stamkos pretty much confirmed it himself on Twitter.
Excited to be back for 8 more years @TBLightning ! Here we go .....— Steven Stamkos (@RealStamkos91) June 29, 2016
The team has yet to announce the terms, but according to a report from TSN's Bob McKenzie, Stamkos' deal will be worth around $8.5 million per season.
Stamkos's deal with TB is expected to come in at eight years, with an AAV of $8.5M.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 29, 2016
And with that, the July 1 free agent signing period just became significantly less exciting.
As appealing as free agency had to be for Stamkos (he would have been one of the best free agents ever), staying in Tampa Bay makes a ton of sense for him and might even be the best possible outcome.
He not only still gets the big money contract (and when you take into account taxes, $8.5 million in Tampa Bay is comparable to $9 or 10 million in other cities), but he also gets the opportunity to remain on a contending team that should once again be one of the Stanley Cup favorites in the Eastern Conference. Over the past two years the Lightning have reached the Stanley Cup Final and Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.
None of the potential landing spots offered him that sort of potential, whether it was Toronto (in the very early stages of a massive rebuild) or Detroit (who seemed to be going all in on making a move for him but is a franchise that seems to have settled into being a middle of the pack team).
The next issue for Tampa Bay now is finding a way to make room to re-sign their restricted free agents, including Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn. Neither one will be cheap and the Lightning are quickly inching closer to the NHL's salary cap, especially with Stamkos now locked in to a long-term deal.
The 26-year-old Stamkos has appeared in 569 regular season games for the Lightning, scoring 312 goals. He is simply one of the best goal scorers of his generation.
He was the No. 1 overall pick by the Lightning in 2009 and has played his entire career with the team.
A blood clot issue kept him out for almost the entire 2016 postseason before he was able to return for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.