Steven Stamkos gets honest about his future

Has the Bolts captain played his final game with Tampa Bay?

Michael W.

Has Steven Stamkos played his final game as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning? 

That was the prevailing question on many a mind after their second straight opening round setback in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, this time to the in-state rival Florida Panthers. The longtime Lightning captain stayed on the ice following the traditional handshake line, much in the same way that former Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron did last season.

Stamkos remains a highly effective player at the age of 34, having just completed his seventh-career 40 goal season. But he made no bones about the fact that he was irked that he didn't have an extension in place last fall. And since there is no extension currently on the table, he can become eligible to test the open market once the calendar flips to July.

While both Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois and head coach Jon Cooper have stated that they'd like to see Stamkos remain with the franchise for the rest of his career, the man himself didn't sound quite as committal. 

The veteran captain, whom the Lightning made the 1st overall pick in the 2008 NHL Draft, is married and has a young son. Understandably, things are a bit different for him this time around than when he inked his current contract in June of 2016. 

"Obviously, certain things have changed now," he explained when discussing a potential new deal. "I have an amazing young family that has put roots down in this city and I really enjoy living here and playing here. From that perspective, the decision is more than just me now."

"There's different factors than there were last time (I was at the end of my contract), but nothing's really changed in terms of my mindset and where I wanted to be and play and that was here. That certainly hasn't changed."

Should Stamkos ultimately hit the open market this summer, he'll have a bevy of options to choose from, including a potential return to the Lightning. 

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Source: Twitter