One of the guys that could be a very attractive restricted free agent is Tampa Bay’s Steve Stamkos. Stamkos is coming off a season that saw him post 45 more goals on top of the 51 goals he scored last season. After having a half-miserable rookie season, Stamkos is legitimately one of the best goal scorers in the NHL and one of the league’s top young stars. Putting Stamkos alongside the likes of Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin isn’t out of the question and with that kind of star power, Tampa Bay management knows they’ve got a deal to get done.
Fortunately for both sides they’re on the same page and with the same line of thought about things.
Lightning GM Steve Yzerman and Stamkos’ agent are busy trying to hammer out a new deal and Stamkos thinks that things will get hashed out soon. Damian Cristodero of the St. Petersburg Times gets the scoop from Stamkos about how things are going.
“I’m thinking things are going to get done,” said Stamkos, who at tonight’s NHL awards show at the Palms Hotel is up for the Ted Lindsay Award as the league’s most outstanding player.
“Tampa is a great organization. With the success we had this year, there are only going to be bigger and better things. You want to be part of that. Whatever happens happens, but I have confidence things are going to get done well before (July 1).”
Cristodero says that the deal is rumored to be worth $7 million a year and for a player of his caliber, that’s about the going rate salary-wise. When you look at the players making $7 million or more per year against the cap, thanks to CapGeek, you’ll see that Stamkos more than belongs among that elite class of the highly paid. After scoring 96 goals and 186 points the last two seasons, Stamkos has proven himself worthy of superstar status in the league.
With the salary cap slated to jump to around $64 million next season, paying up for your young franchise player should be no problem. The Lightning’s current management will just need to learn from mistakes from the past regime and not make his new deal Vincent Lecavalier-esque in its cap-crushing ability. We suspect that Yzerman and owner Jeff Vinnik have a bit more savvy than to let that happen. Not that Stamkos isn’t worth big money, just that everyone benefits from a cap-flexible and friendly deal. We’re sure that every agent in the world hates that last statement.