At All-Star media day Friday, Stamkos, 24, indicated that he and the Lightning are moving towards a contract extension, which would mean … no absurd unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2016 when his five-year $37.5 million deal is up?
“Obviously July 1 you can announce a deal and something hopefully similar to what Kane and Toews did, sometime after July 1,” Stamkos said. “It's a long ways away. I'm not really focused on that. We haven't really talked about that at all. We'll discuss that in the summertime, but I'm obviously very happy with where I am in Tampa.”
So he's taking his talents nowhere new.
Could you imagine a summer where Mike Babcock stays in Detroit and Stamkos opts to re-up with Tampa a year before unrestricted free agency? The Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment offices would burn to the ground. Or people would get really upset.
Later in the interview, Stamkos said:
"Obviously we'll have those discussions. Obviously I can't sit here and say exactly what's going to happen, but I can definitely we'll have those discussions and we'll see where it goes."
So a little backtrack perhaps? Maybe he went too far earlier?
Either way, this has to sound wonderful to the good people of Tampa. A player generally doesn’t make such strongly worded comments if there isn’t something to them – though his agents may be slamming their collective heads against a wall.
Regardless, there’s still leverage. No matter where Stamkos goes, he’s going to get eight years. He’s going to get $12 million or more. At his age and his skill set, dude will make bank.
In the past, Stamkos has hinted at his love of the Toronto market and the Maple Leafs. But if he wants to win a Stanley Cup, the Lightning have a bevy of talent. Victor Hedman, Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Ben Bishop – the list goes on and on.
And the Maple Leafs are the Maple Leafs.
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