Yzerman and Stamkos not worried about a contract extension just yet

stevenstamkos2.jpgWhile we’ve paid more than enough attention to the players that are restricted free agents this year, next year one of the biggest names in the NHL is set to become a restricted free agent. Steven Stamkos of the Lightning is in the final year of his entry-level contract and after scoring 51 goals last year, it’s time for the Lightning and GM Steve Yzerman to step up and lock him in for the foreseeable future. The contract process hasn’t begun yet with Stamkos, but as Erik Erlendsson of The Tampa Tribune finds out, neither side seems to be worried about getting something done.

Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman, who has plowed through plenty of other items on his docket in his first summer at the helm, wants to ensure Stamkos never hits the free agent market. Although there have not been any discussions between the Lightning and Stamkos’ agent to this point, Yzerman said re-signing Stamkos remains a priority.

“I haven’t had a chance to really start on that, but once we get into (training) camp … I will start to get prepared and make contact with Steven’s representation at some point,” Yzerman said. “I would prefer (it didn’t linger) but you can never be really certain as to which direction it will go, but he is an important part of the organization and we will make our best effort to get it done as quickly as possible.

“Our goal is to get Steven re-signed and he is an important part of the franchise, which is an understatement.”

Whether a new contract gets hammered out quickly or it takes time to come to terms, Stamkos said the process won’t weigh heavily on his mind.

“There is no rush for me, I’m not pressing on anything to get done on a certain timeline,” he said. “I have thought about it, for sure, but not to any kind of big extent. It’s obviously a big year because it’s the last year of a contract, but … there have been some others in the past who struggle in those years and let it get to them.

“For me, I’m lucky to have great guys on this team to be here with and our team is looking really good. I’m just excited to get the season going, contract or not.”

Must be nice to have a situation that isn’t fraught with anxiousness to get something done and squared away. With what we’ve seen this off-season concerning Bobby Ryan in Anaheim and Marc Staal with the Rangers, having both Yzerman and Stamkos say that they’re not concerned about things and eager to get something done is a nice change of pace. Yzerman has yet to make a seemingly bad move as GM, seeing how he handles a contract extension of this magnitude will be interesting to watch. It’ll also be interesting to see what Stamkos does for an encore following his breakout season.

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    WATCH LIVE: Vegas Golden Knights at San Jose Sharks

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    [Puck drop at 10 p.m. ET, CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE]


    Golden Knights

    Jonathan MarchessaultWilliam KarlssonTomas Tatar

    David PerronErik HaulaJames Neal

    Ryan CarpenterCody EakinAlex Tuch

    Tomas NosekPierre-Edouard BellemareRyan Reaves

    Brayden McNabbNate Schmidt

    Shea TheodoreDeryk Engelland

    Jon MerrillColin Miller

    Starting goalie: Malcolm Subban

    [Golden Knights – Sharks preview]


    Evander KaneJoe PavelskiMelker Karlsson

    Tomas HertlLogan CoutureMikkel Boedker

    Timo MeierChris TierneyKevin Labanc

    Barclay GoodrowEric FehrJannik Hansen

    Marc-Edouard VlasicJustin Braun

    Paul MartinBrent Burns

    Brenden DillonDylan DeMelo

    Starting goalie: Martin Jones

    Cam Ward delivers an all-time own goal (video)

    Fox Sports Carolinas

    We’ve seen some pretty interesting own goals throughout NHL history, and now Cam Ward has staked his claim for one of the strangest.

    The Carolina Hurricanes goaltender scored on himself in one of the most bizarre plays ever seen in the NHL.

    The puck, as you can see, hops into the skate of an unknowing Ward as the veteran netminder went out to play a puck that was rimmed around the boards.

    Ward, does what he would normally do after trotting out behind his net, and gets back into his crease. Unsure of where the puck is, he drops into the butterfly. The problem is the puck is stuck in his right skate, which goes over the goal line.

    It’s hard to explain, so let’s roll the footage:

    The play-by-play man on Fox Sports Carolinas had a good point: Why wasn’t the play blown dead? Even if the ref has his eye on the puck, there was no way of Ward knowing what he was about to do.

    Is there even a rule for that?

    Either way, one of the strangest goals in recent memory counted in a game few were probably watching to begin with.

    It’s probably safe to assume Ward (and goalies around the NHL) are going to find some way as to not let that happen again.

    Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

    Red Wings’ Mike Green to have neck surgery, ending his season

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    Mike Green‘s neck has done him few favors this season, and now it’s done his season in.

    The All-Star defenseman will undergo cervical spine surgery and will miss the remainder of the 2017-18, the Detroit Red Wings announced on Thursday, right before the puck dropped for their game against the Washington Capitals.

    Red Wings fans will recall, and likely bemoan, an earlier neck injury that prevented Green from getting dealt at the trade deadline earlier this season.

    Green, 32, was hurt in a Feb. 15 matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning and missed seven games, returning on March 2 against the Winnipeg Jets. On Wednesday, he aggravated the same injury in practice.

    Green has eight goals and 33 points in 66 games played.

    Per Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press:

    The procedure is scheduled for April 5 at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City and will be performed by Dr. Frank Cammisa. A minimum two months of recovery time is expected.

    It will be interesting to see what happens with Green this summer. The aging d-man is headed to free agency this summer and what he will command is up in the air. That number, whatever it is, likely took a blow thanks to this latest revelation on Thursday.

    Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

    WATCH LIVE: Washington Capitals at Detroit Red Wings

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    Washington Capitals

    Alex Ovechkin / Nicklas Backstrom / Tom Wilson

    Andre Burakovsky / Lars Eller / T.J. Oshie

    Brett Connolly / Travis Boyd / Jakub Vrana

    Chandler Stephenson / Jay Beagle / Devante Smith-Pelly

    Dmitry Orlov / Matt Niskanen

    Michal Kempny / John Carlson

    Christian Djoos / Brooks Orpik

    Starting goalie: Philipp Grubauer

    [Capitals – Red Wings preview]

    Detroit Red Wings

    Tyler Bertuzzi / Henrik Zetterberg / Gustav Nyquist

    Darren Helm / Dylan Larkin / Anthony Mantha

    Justin Abdelkader / Frans Nielsen / Andreas Athanasiou

    Evgeny Svechnikov / Luke Glendening / Martin Frk

    Niklas Kronwall / Mike Green

    Jonathan Ericsson / Trevor Daley

    Danny DeKeyser / Nick Jensen

    Starting goalie: Jimmy Howard