Damian Cristodero of the St. Pete Times spoke with Lightning GM Steve Yzerman on Wednesday, and reported good news to the Bolts faithful getting edgy about the negotiations: Stevie Y went beyond just optimism this time. From Lightning Strikes:
"Yes," Yzerman said when asked if he and Stamkos' agent Don Meehan, to whom he spoke on Wednesday, were actually making progress.
"We're working towards getting a deal done. We're going to get there. I'll be patient and, again, optimistic that we'll reach an agreement. I don't want to give you a timeframe on anything, but I believe we'll get there."
Meehan, meanwhile, popped on Fan 590 in Toronto with Brady and Lang on Wednesday (audio here) and offered an update on contract talks … and the potential for an offer sheet for Steven Stamkos.
From Fan 590:
"We're working at it. He's really, really a unique player and in many respects can be a franchise player. When you're dealing with anybody of that kind of substance, it takes a lot of time to come to an agreement. But we're both working. We have a consensus on many things about Steven. One, that he's very unique; two, he's a tremendous player. Very, very popular in Tampa, and as I said he can be considered a franchise player.
So glad they've been able to establish that Stamkos is (a) very unique and (b) a tremendous player. No doubt it's just a matter of filling in some zeroes before this thing gets done.
"Any time you're dealing with a player of that substance and magnitude, it takes time. I'm confident with the negotiations the way they're going. I'm optimistic."
So there's plenty of optimism here, at least publicly. But Meehan was also asked about the potential for an offer sheet for Stamkos, and said:
"Well, you know, this isn't something that necessarily has to happen on July 1. It could happen later than that. There's always that possibility. Right now the primary focus is on negotiating a contract with Tampa. We're doing that effectively so far. We haven't gotten to the point where either side is frustrated and would warrant an offer sheet. For the time being, our negotiations are going well."
"For the time being …" insert dramatic music here.
Meanwhile, in other StamkosWatch news:
• Chris Burke of The Detroit Sports Site had concocted a scenario in which the Detroit Red Wings jettison Jiri Hudler(notes) ($2.875 million) and Valterri Filppula ($3 million) among others to tender an offer sheet for Stamkos, and then makes Stamkos the team's second-line center behind Pavel Datsyuk(notes).
• Dave Jarvis of Inside Hockey has a really interesting piece about the media coverage of Stamkos's negotiations and how there seems to be a rooting interest against Tampa Bay as a hockey market. In fact, it reminds Jarvis of another star center's plight:
The same things that are being reported about Stamkos were reported for years about Vincent Lecavalier(notes). For years, it almost read like the special of the day in a restaurant, constant trade rumors reported that really ramped up whenever Lecavalier went back home to Montreal (as well as when the Lightning traveled to any Canadian city or major U.S. hockey market).
It was never reported that Lecavalier was entrenched in the community here in Tampa, one in which he donated so much of his time and money to help build a new cancer ward in a children's hospital here in the area. That fact alone will leave a much longer lasting legacy than anything Lecavalier does on the ice.
How could that get reported, because then the national media would then have to admit that Tampa was a great place to live and that Lecavalier actually did want to play for the organization and make this area his home, as he'd be stating all along.
The only difference being that most of the Lecavalier stuff was generated by the Montreal media, which felt it was his destiny to play in that market. Toronto hasn't done the same with Stamkos quite yet.
• Finally, as Danny DiNicolantonio reminds us, Bobby Ryan's(notes) RFA contract with the Ducks wasn't finalized until the middle of September last season. So everybody be cool. We're gonna be like three little Fonzies here. And what's Fonzie like? Cool. Correctamundo.