Breaking: Lightning Top Forward Emerge As Trade Candidate In Proposed Move

Breaking: Lightning Top Forward Emerge As Trade Candidate In Proposed Move

Following Game 5 between the Panthers and Lightning, speculation arose that Steven Stamkos will play his farewell game with Tampa Bay on Monday night.

After 16 seasons with the Lightning, Stamkos is eligible for free agency on July 1.

There has been a lot of discussion over his future with the only team he has ever played for.

If Monday’s 6-1 loss to the Panthers was his last game with the Lightning, it doesn’t seem right.

It’s impossible to see ‘Stammer’ playing for any other squad.

That might happen in a few months.

One has to think Stamkos and general manager Julien BriseBois will speak soon.

“I don’t know if there will be much conversation,” coach Jon Cooper said Monday evening. “I hope not. He belonged here. We know it. He recognizes it. This occurs two seconds after a game. He and I grew up together. He’s an excellent player. He’s also, I believe, in charge of his own fate.

“I’m not sure what will happen, but he feels like a Bolt for life.” “Only he and Julien can answer that question.”

Stamkos, 34, is likely looking for a long-term contract.

These types of arrangements for athletes of a specific age rarely age well.

However, it’s uncommon for 34-year-olds to have 40-goal seasons like the future Hall of Famer.

Over the last three seasons, Stamkos has averaged more than a point per game, as he has throughout his career.

His five goals in five playoff games against the Panthers were remarkable, and he was arguably Tampa Bay’s best player in the series.

Stamkos inked an eight-year, $68 million contract with Tampa Bay during his last UFA status.

Throughout the previous season, there was curiosity as to what Stamkos might accomplish.

Indeed, he considered alternative proposals, possibly as a bargaining chip.

The whole hockey world, and then some, understands that Stamkos belongs in Tampa for the remainder of his career.

However, hockey is a business, and odd things have occurred.

The Lightning have declined since winning back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2020 and 2021.

The team has lost in the first round of the playoffs for the past two years.

This year, it took a late-season surge to reach the playoffs.

BriseBois plans to rebuild.

He may have to hand over assets along the road.

Retaining Stamkos, even at his present salary, is advantageous given to the predicted salary cap increase and the Lightning’s lack of other significant contracts due this year.

Negotiating new contracts is significantly easier in years when you don’t win a title.

There are fewer raises to be awarded for outstanding seasons.

Except for Victor Hedman, who has one year left on his current eight-year contract, all of Tampa Bay’s high-priced talents are under long-term contracts.

The only other deal expiring for more than $1 million is between Anthony Duclair and Matt Dumba, both of whom might be short-term rentals.

Despite rumors of contract conversations with BriseBois prior to the season, Stamkos did not cause any distractions during the season.

He and BriseBois may already have a handshake contract.

When asked if he was thinking about it as time wound down in the elimination game, Stamkos graciously declined, emphasizing his focus on victory over his future.

This wasn’t the time to doubt his intention to stay.

It only needed to be asked.

And it was.

“No, that never crossed my mind,” Stamkos said. “I’m out there battling to try to help our team win, regardless. At the end of the game, we were trying to score. There’s some pride on the line for our group.”

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