Tampa Bay Lightning: Re-signing Steven Stamkos

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The Tampa Bay Lightning’s season ended with heartbreak and while the Chicago Blackhawks and their fans celebrate another Stanley Cup, the Lightning have to focus on their future. And that means knocking out a deal this summer that will keep team captain Steven Stamkos in Tampa for years to come.

Smart man.

Stamkos will enter the final year of his contract in the 2015-16 season. At the end, if no deal is signed, he will be an unrestricted free agent and free to roam where he pleases. While there is still time on his contract, it’s much better to get a deal done this offseason, so Stamkos and the rest of the team won’t be constantly bombarded with questions about his future.

"“Players, coaching staff, management, ownership, this is one of the best groups I’ve ever played on,” Stamkos said. “I’ve been here for so long, this is my home now. It’s been unbelievable for me to see the transition here, and it starts with [Jeff] Vinik, the owner here. I know there’s going to be a lot of questions about what’s going to happen in the next couple of weeks, but those things will be taken care of in time.” —NHL.com"

It sounds as if Stamkos plans to stay (sorry Toronto I know you have wanted him to come home for some time now). He also mentioned during the All-Star break that his plan was to re-sign with Tampa. Of course, there is always a possibility that a deal won’t be reached and things will fall apart between him and the team. It’s an unlikely scenario, but it has happened before.

"Stamkos could probably make something along the lines of the eight-year, $84 million deals Blackhawks stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane signed last summer. — Joe Smith Tampa Bay Times"

This is an understandable expectation. Stamkos is highly skilled, can score from almost anywhere and has an attitude of a player who will never become complacent; he wants to win, he wants to improve and he is going to do both of those things.

I always have a hard time evaluating what a player is worth; I’ll probably never understand it fully because, when it comes down to it, I don’t think anyone is “worth” that much. But this isn’t about me. This is about the future of Tampa, which Stamkos is a key part of. Yet, so is Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Nikita Kucherov, and Alex Killorn. All of whom become restricted free agents before or directly after the 2017-18 season.

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So, while the Lightning are sure to offer Stamkos a substantial raise, they should keep in mind what they will have to dish out over the next two summers. The players mentioned above are important to Tampa growing as a hockey market and as a Stanley Cup-caliber team. One person can’t carry a team alone, even Stamkos (this postseason is a prime example).

If this were baseball or no salary cap existed then sure I would throw everything I had at Stamkos and then some in order to keep him. But please, Yzerman have a spine and make sure you don’t do anything irrational (remember the 11-year Vincent Lecavalier fiasco?). Not to say that the same would happen to Stamkos, but just remember you have to field a full roster with depth and talent—and that doesn’t come cheap.

I have complete faith that Yzerman will do the right thing and that Stamkos will sign a long-term deal this summer. I’ll just have to wait until after July 1 to see if I was right.

Next: Cam Talbot Trade Possibilities

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