Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman shared on his 32 Thoughts podcast that the Tampa Bay Lightning “wouldn’t be crushed” if Steven Stamkos didn’t sign an extension with the team. This comes in the wake of a surprising lack of discussion around Stamkos’ next contract, with the veteran center saying he was disappointed the team didn’t reach out this summer.
While the front office might not mind a Stamkos departure, Lightning fans may have a different stance. Stamkos has played all of his 1003 career NHL games with Tampa, netting 515 goals and 1056 points along the way. His performances have led him to two Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophies and a spot on the Hart Trophy ballot seven times, including being the runner-up to Evgeni Malkin’s Hart win in 2012. Stamkos even won the Mark Messier Leadership Award just last year. All of these accolades sit beside two Stanley Cup wins in Stamkos’ theoretical hardware cabinet, making it clear why his departure would be harder to stomach than these reports describe. Still capable of scoring over 30 goals and 80 points, Stamkos will be a luxury addition to any team in the league, if his time with the Lightning really is counting down.
Other notes from around the league:
- Elliotte Friedman also spoke to Mikael Backlund’s contract situation on the 32 Thoughts podcast, sharing that talks may be tied to the idea that Backlund is Calgary’s natural leader. Friedman said, “I think the players believe that Backlund is the true captain of the team, and I’m sure the organization is not blind to it.” This could be the spark that ignites talks between Backlund and the Flames, two sides that haven’t come together yet.
- ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski spoke to the NHL’s hope (article behind paywall) to build on the momentum brought on by the Australian pre-season games. More specifically, the league is considering holding an outdoor game in Mexico City. There have been, or are scheduled to be, 42 regular-season NHL games played outside of North America. Playing a game in Mexico would bring the total number of countries the NHL has played in up to 10 (USA, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Czechia, Australia, Denmark, Japan, Great Britain, Mexico*).