Call off the offer sheets. Exhale, Tampa Bay Lightning fans. Have a cold one, GM Steve Yzerman.
The coveted 21-year-old restricted free-agent center, who tallied 96 goals over the last two seasons, has agreed to a five-year, $37.5 million deal — an annual cap hit of $7.5 million.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have agreed to terms with restricted free agent Steven Stamkos on a five-year contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.
"Steven is extremely important to this franchise and is part of the foundation of our hockey team," Yzerman said. "We are very pleased to have him signed and look forward to seeing him in a Lightning uniform for years to come."
"I am excited we were able to reach an agreement today," Stamkos said. "This was obviously very important to me and I appreciate Mr. Vinik and Steve Yzerman for all their work in the transformation of the franchise as we move forward. There is no place I'd rather be than as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning."
The framework of this contract had been kicking around since early July, with the Lightning having offered $37 million over five years.
Stamkos's $7.5 million cap hit will place him seventh in the NHL, well behind Alex Ovechkin(notes) (No. 1, $9.538 million) and Sidney Crosby(notes) (No. 2, $8.7 million), even with Dany Heatley(notes) and Marian Gaborik(notes) and just ahead of Scott Gomez(notes) (No. 10, $7.357 million … still stuns us every time we see it).
It also gives him the second-highest cap hit on the Lightning behind Vincent Lecavalier(notes) ($7.727 million). And unlike Vinny, no cap circumventing farce of a contract with minimum wage years at the end for Stamkos. Refreshing.
The five-year term does sort of scream "show me" for the Lightning. Marty St. Louis, an undeniable draw for Stamkos, will be 42 years old at the end of Stamkos's contract. Things can change, and Stamkos isn't locked into a lifetime deal. Remember: Sidney Crosby's on a five-year term, too. It's all about options.
Thus ends some tense moments for Lightning fans. Print those NHL '12 covers with confidence!