Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos had a frank interview with reporters that appeared on Sportsnet today. In the interview, Stamkos tells reporters that he and the team have yet to start discussions on an extension to his expiring contract. The interview created a buzz and even led Lightning General Manager Julien BriseBois to respond with an interview of his own.
The 33-year-old Stamkos is set to begin his 16th season with the club and is coming off back-to-back productive seasons after he was slowed by injuries for a few years. Stamkos posted 34 goals and 50 assists last season in 81 games and was even better the year before posting 42 goals and 64 assists in 81 games.
It’s no surprise that Stamkos is looking for long-term security after taking a big discount on his last contract to remain in Tampa Bay. Back in June 2016 Stamkos signed an eight-year $68MM extension to remain in Tampa Bay and opted to forego unrestricted free agency. The contract turned out to be a win-win as Stamkos was able to raise the Stanley Cup twice with the Lightning and the team was able to keep their captain at a bargain.
Also of little surprise are Stamkos’ feelings about the situation, Tampa Bay typically engages the players they want to extend well before the completion of their existing deals. This has been modus operandi in the past, and it begs the question as to whether or not they want to extend Stamkos at all.
From Tampa’s perspective, BriseBois was frank with Tampa Bay beat reporter Chris Krenn saying that he wanted to see the season play out before making a decision on Stamkos’ future. He also added that after the season he would work with Stamkos and his agent to hammer out a deal that works for all parties involved.
It should be an interesting season in Tampa Bay as the Lightning are coming off a season in which they took a big step back and were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Lightning looked tired at times after three straight runs to the Stanley Cup final, but should be rested this season after a long summer.