The fact that prolific goal scorer Steven Stamkos has yet to sign a contract extension with the Tampa Bay Lightning, despite comments made in the offseason by General Manager Steve Yzerman:  “it is going to be a top priority”, leads me to believe he may not be a Bolt for much longer.

Stamkos by the numbers:

Since Stamkos has broken into the NHL there is only one player who has more goals than him, superstar Alex Ovechkin.

In 524 career games played, Stamkos has 287G, 233A, and 520 pts. In his 8 seasons in the NHL he has two seasons of 40+ goals and two seasons of 50+ goals, including a career high 60 goals in 2011-12. In a league where goals are becoming harder and harder to come by, Steven Stamos is definitely one of the most elite goal scorers, making him extremely valuable to any team.

The situation:

Upon completion of the 2015-16 season, Steven Stamkos will become an unrestricted free agent, meaning he will have the ability to sign with any team of his choosing. If he stays with Tampa Bay, he will be able to sign for a maximum of 8 years. If he signs with any other of the NHL clubs he will be able to sign for a maximum of 7 years. In terms of dollars, he can earn a maximum of $14.28 million (20% of the teams $71.4 Million Salary Cap, based on 2015 figures). In the summer of 2014, the Chicago Blackhawks stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane signed identical 8 year deals paying them an average of $10.5 million per season. This seems to be the starting point of where Stamkos is expecting his salary to be.

Why the deal is not done:

There a couple of reasons why the deal has not been done yet.

The Team’s perspective:

Lightning’s GM Steve Yzerman does not want to give his star player a max deal of 8 years and anywhere from $10-14 million per season. With the salary cap at $71.4; and not expected to rise significantly partially due to the weak Canadian dollar, this will not leave much room to sign future star free agents; Victor Hedman and the triplets line: Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat.

To view the Tampa Bay Lightning salary cap and upcoming free agents click here.

The Player’s perspective:

Stamkos wants to play center and his head coach John Cooper (who just signed an extension of his own) has occasionally put him on the wing, including last year in the playoffs.

Dollar and Term: Stamkos and his agent Don Meehan of Newport Sports Management Inc. believe he is worth more than what the team is offering him.

Stamkos wants to play for a cup contender: The Tampa Bay Lightning went to the Stanley Cup Finals last year, but are hobbling their way through the current season. Maybe Stamkos does not like the direction the team is heading?

Possible trade partners:

Stamkos is in a unique situation where he has a no trade clause in his current contract. Rumours circulating are that Steven will only approve a trade to a cup contender. Based on that, i believe his choices are limited to:

Montreal Canadiens, Washington Capitals, New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks or Los Angeles Kings.

For my breakdown of the teams mentioned above; Click Here.

With the salary cap in place, it is already difficult to make a “hockey trade” because of the salary cap. In this particular situation where Stamkos has all the power, it may be even more difficult. Unless Yzerman is willing to take what he can get, I do not see Stamkos moving before the trade deadline.

Free Agency:

If Tampa Bay does not re-sign their star forward, we can bet that 29 teams will be on the phone (or in person) with Don Meehan (Stamkos’s agent) on July 1 (start of free agency) trying to bring Stamkos to their club.

There is much speculation that his hometown team the Toronto Maple Leafs will be very interested in his services and that he would love to play for his favourite team while he was growing up. However seeing they are at the start of a rebuild, I personally don’t see the fit. Sorry Leafs fans!

 

Daniel Pancer

Spark Sports Analyst

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