Another terrible blow to Steven Stamkos at crunch time

Another terrible blow to Steven Stamkos at crunch time

In Tampa:

Chris Gosselin

Captain Steven Stamkos played out the final season of his eight-year contract, which carries an annual cap hit of $8.5 million as well as a full no-movement clause. He has spent his entire career in a Tampa Bay Lightning’s uniform, but he might have to get used to new colours for the 2024-25 season.

That’s because Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois provided an update on Friday morning in a Zoom call that sends the message that the star forward won’t return to Tampa. When asked about contract negotiations, BriseBois had no issues sharing how little development had been done for the future of Stamkos with the team:

“As we stand here right now, we haven’t been able to reach an agreement yet. I don’t know if we will be able to reach an agreement but we met with Steven’s agent again yesterday and both sides are still interested in getting a deal done but we have not been able to agree to terms that are satisfactory for both sides. I think, at this time, it’s probably best if I leave my comments to that for the time being.”

At the start of the 2023-24 season, GM Julien BriseBois had pointed out how he would not negotiate a contract with Stamkos during the campaign, which had frustrated the captain. I bet this is just as frustrating for Stamkos, who would also need to make some sacrifices on a new deal in order for Tampa to get under the cap as the team already committed to more than $75 million to 2024-25’s salary cap.

At age 34, Stamkos remains a highly effective player, having just completed his seventh-career 40 goal season. And while he would probably love to retire as a member of the Bolts, he was visibly hurt by the way he was treated by his own team this season. Since there is no extension currently on the table, he can become eligible to test the open market once the calendar flips to July. The Nashville Predators are believed to have high interest for the captain, while many fans would love to see him come home to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

One thing is clear: the clock is ticking, as July 1 is just days away.

Moments later, Stamkos' agent Don Meehan told insider Pierre LeBrun regarding his client unless something changes in Tampa’s position: 

“He will be a free agent on July 1.”