Steven Stamkos and the Lightning, a pairing that should stick together

The Tampa Bay Lightning have gone back to back years without a Stanley Cup Playoff series victory, but Steven Stamkos is not the problem on this roster.
Florida Panthers v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Three
Florida Panthers v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Three / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

The Tampa Bay Lightning haven't won a playoff series since the 2021-22 Conference Finals. A team that was once looked at as a potential dynasty in the making has now lost in the first round of back to back seasons, and they could now lose their captain in Steven Stamkos.

Steven Stamkos is 34 years old, the Lightning's captain was drafted first overall in the 2008 NHL Draft and has won two Stanley Cups, two Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophies and has been an all star on multiple occasions.

Stamkos has played all 1082 games of his NHL career in a Lightning jersey, and that could very well change this next season.

The Tampa Bay Lightning have some big cap concerns to face, and Steven Stamkos could be the latest cap-casualty.

The Lightning have about $12 million in cap space to use this offseason to help retool their roster for their next championship run. This could be a tough task for General Manager Julien BriseBois, there are a lot of players coming off the books this summer.

Steven Stamkos, Matt Dumba, Anthony Duclair, Tyler Motte, Austin Watson, Mitchell Chaffee, Calvin De Haan and Hayden Fleury all are without contracts for next season. While not all those players will return, the Lightning are going to have to fill some holes on their roster.

Stamkos signed his current contract in June 2016, the eight year deal worth $68 million carried an annual cap hit of $8.5 million. Stamkos should be a Lightning for life, at least according to coach Jon Cooper.

As captain, Steven Stamkos has taken the Tampa Bay Lightning to four Stanley Cup Finals, and the team has been one of the best in the league during that entire run. Obviously the salary cap is a factor in this situation, but the Lightning should bring back their captain. The organization has a good core with Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, Anthony Cirelli, and Brandon Hagel signed long term offensively, but Stamkos is the leader of this franchise.