NHL Rumors: Steven Stamkos extension in Tampa Bay

Today’s NHL Rumors examines news about Steven Stamkos signing an extension with the Tampa Bay Lightning and why the deal has yet to occur.

Since July 1, 2023, the Lightning have had the chance to negotiate a contract extension with their long-time captain, Stamkos. However, as of this writing, there isn’t progress regarding a new deal just days away from training camp. 

We bring this up because the Lightning recently extended Brandon Hagel to a max-year deal valued at $52 million ($6.5 million AAV) over eight seasons. Even though this new agreement doesn’t go into effect until the 2024-25 season, the pay increase is significant compared to the $1.5 million he’s on the books for this season. 

Tampa Bay already has a reputation regarding its ability to manage the salary cap, and no matter what they do to stay compliant these days, there’s an eye roll somewhere in the hockey community. According to CapFriendly, the Lightning currently sit $6,948.333 over the limit, but once they place Brent Seabrook on LTIR, that will free up $6,875,000, leaving the team $73,333 over the ceiling heading into opening night. 

This had Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe recently speculate if the Bolts could even afford to keep Stamkos around. Can anyone really see Stamkos in another jersey?

Steven Stamkos should finish his career with the Lightning

nhl recaps steven stamkos
Dec 1, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; The Tampa Bay Lightning mob Steven Stamkos after he recorded his 1000 career point during the second period against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

After getting eliminated in the first round, there was talk that Stamkos would sit down with the Lightning executive and hammer out an extension this summer. Interestingly, the two sides have yet to go public with further information, opting not to disclose whether any meetings took place or where the two sides stand regarding salary and terms. 

Before winning the Stanley Cup in 2020, Stamkos spent more time on the sidelines than on the ice, raising concerns amongst the fan base if he was worth the $8.5 million he made yearly. Statistically, after capturing that first championship, he found a new level to his game, and in the previous two years, he’s missed just two games while bagging 76 goals and 190 points. 

Even though Stamkos hasn’t hoisted the Stanley Cup since 2021, he did collect a handful of milestones in 2022-23 with his 500th career goal, 500th assist, and 1,000 points while skating in his 1,000th game. Historically, he’s the greatest player to wear a Lightning sweater, and if he has it his way, he’ll never dress for another team

What would be the best bang for the buck in a new Stamkos deal?

At 33 years old, the Lightning would most likely not offer a long-term contract, afraid of his lengthy injury history and how he may not make it through another six or seven seasons. However, if the executives are savvy, they can start with a four-year deal worth roughly the same amount. Then, play it by ear every year after that, like the Boston Bruins recently did with Patrice Bergeron. 

A lot can happen between now and when Stamkos turns 37 or 40, so the money and term must make sense to ensure the team and player each benefit from a new deal. Ultimately, we are still discussing his name, and he still needs to sign on the dotted line before his potential extension causes a distraction during the season.

Of course, both sides will brush it off; however, most likely won’t let the subject go until it’s settled. Considering the team will have other pending free agents, including Tyler Motte, Logan Brown, Alex Barre-Boulet, Zach Bogosian, Calvin De Haan, Haydn Fleury, and Darren Raddysh, they will need to find a new creative way to retain their captain, fill out their roster, and stay under the salary cap.