Two-sports star? Steven Stamkos spends summer playing beer league baseball

Ever wonder what some of your favorite superstars do to bide their time during the summer? Hockey’s offseason isn’t exactly too long when you consider when the Stanley Cup finals end and when training camp begins. That leaves players anywhere from three to four months off depending on how long their season extends in the playoffs.

For Tampa Bay’s Steve Stamkos, being one of the league’s best players and youngest superstars means doing things a little differently. Rather than cruising the world and being a jet-setter, Stamkos is throwing on the cleats, grabbing a glove and a bat, and playing some baseball with his buddies back home in Ontario.

That’s right, Steven Stamkos is a beer league baseball player. Dave Feschuk of The Toronto Star tells the story.

NHL contracts prohibit players from partaking in a long list of sports not named hockey, including baseball, lacrosse, wrestling and boxing, without the club’s written consent. But consent, especially in the case of an all-world talent pursuing a near-and-dear hobby, generally isn’t denied.

“It’s a nice way to hang out with my old buddies,” Stamkos said.

His friends say Stamkos still slums it because, for all the endorsement deals and mega millions that have come his way as a pro, he’s still the same humble guy they’ve always known — except he’s been known to buy them gifts.

Last year he sprung for matching black-and-green cleats to match the team’s jerseys. (He took a ribbing when the shoes arrived with pink laces. “The laces looked white on the website,” Stamkos said.)

Better that he’s a baseball player than he is a fashion mogul, right?

It’s cool to see Stamkos take his swings in another sport like this but just how is he at baseball? Well…

Stamkos’s summertime presence isn’t exactly a secret in these parts. His stats are on the league’s website, where he is on record as a .608 hitter with eight home runs in 10 games.

Not too shabby. It’s also not quite the cutthroat kind of baseball you might’ve grown up watching on TV or playing in Little League. Think of it as the kind of baseball where the coach pitches to you and you take your swings. Easy living.

For you Lightning fans worried that perhaps Stamkos might ditch out on hockey to pursue a career with the Tampa Bay Rays instead, fear not, he’s not going anywhere especially after signing a five-year, $37.5 million contract this summer. For now, Tampa Bay fans can take pride in knowing that their best hockey player could do well taking his swings on their baseball team as well. He might not be Bo Jackson-like, but perhaps he’ll be Bo Jackson-like in video game form as the face of NHL 12.

(hat tip to The Big Lead)

Brendan Smith still talking to Rangers, ‘trying to make it happen’

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It’s only a few days until July 1 and defenseman Brendan Smith still doesn’t have an extension in place with the New York Rangers.

Not to worry, says his agent. It doesn’t necessarily mean that Smith is going to sign elsewhere.

“No one should read anything into the fact that we don’t have a deal yet,” Anton Thun told the New York Post. “You’re never really close until it’s done, but both sides are trying to make it happen. We’ll have to see.”

Thun told the Post a month ago that Smith, an unrestricted free agent, was “open” to returning to the Rangers.

But there’s also been speculation that the Blueshirts will pursue Kevin Shattenkirk in free agency, which would probably mean less money available for Smith.

It remains to be seen if the Rangers will, indeed, make a big push for Shattenkirk. The addition of Anthony DeAngelo in the Derek Stepan trade may have lessened their urgency in that regard.

“He’s a puck-moving right-handed defenseman that can run the power play and shoot the puck,” GM Jeff Gorton said of DeAngelo, per Sporting News.

Which sounds a lot like Shattenkirk, no?

Smith, 28, was traded to the Rangers from Detroit on Feb. 28.

Sens extend McCormick — two years, $1.3 million

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Looks as though forward Max McCormick has a future in Ottawa.

On Tuesday, the Sens signed McCormick to a two-year extension worth $650,000 annually — and, perhaps most importantly, it’s a one-way deal in the second year.

McCormick, 25, also has a $250,000 guaranteed AHL salary next season.

The deal comes after he set a career high and tied for the AHL Binghamton team lead in goals last year, with 21. McCormick also appeared in seven games for Ottawa — this after playing 20 in ’15-16 — and emerged as a high-energy guy with an edge to his game.

Despite not being overly big (5-foot-11, 188 pounds), McCormick fought seven times for Binghamton last season, and led the team in penalty minutes. The year prior, he scrapped 12 times between the Sens and Baby Sens.

A spot at the NHL level could soon materialize. The Sens have already announced they’re moving on from free agent forward Chris Neil, and the futures of fellow UFAs Viktor Stalberg, Chris Kelly and Tommy Wingels remain uncertain.

Carolina re-signs Chelios, Brown

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The ‘Canes retained some organizational depth on Tuesday, agreeing to terms with defenseman Jake Chelios — the son of Hockey Hall of Famer Chris Chelios — and forward Patrick Brown.

Brown’s contract is a one-year, $650,000 extension, one that will pay $160,000 at the AHL level, with a guarantee of $190,000.

Brown, 25, split last season between Charlotte and Carolina, appearing in a career-high 14 contest with the ‘Canes. The Boston College product scored 12 goals and 28 points in 66 games with the Checkers.

Chelios, 26, has yet to make his NHL debut but is coming off a strong season with Charlotte. He served as an alternate captain and had a strong offensive campaign, with 32 points in 76 contests. That led all Checkers d-men in scoring, and he was the only player on the team to appear in every single game this season.

Like Brown, Chelios’ deal will pay $650,000 at the NHL level. It’s $85,000 at the AHL level.

Report: Sens tried to get Methot back from Vegas

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The Ottawa Senators did their best to make sure they didn’t lose Marc Methot in the expansion draft.

They attempted to get Dion Phaneuf to waive his no-move clause so they could keep Methot, but that didn’t work out.

On Monday, TSN hockey analyst Pierre LeBrun reported that the Golden Knights and Senators had been talking about a potential trade back to Ottawa.

In the end, Vegas GM George McPhee preferred to ship him to Dallas for 2017 seventh-rounder Dylan Ferguson and a second-round pick in 2020.

According to beat reporter Bruce Garrioch, Vegas’ asking price to allow the Sens to protect Methot before expansion was a 2018 first-round pick.

Methot has averaged at least 19:49 of ice time during his five seasons in Ottawa.

In the end, all this means is that the Senators will need to find someone else to play on the top pairing with Erik Karlsson next season.

During training camp, Ottawa put top prospect Thomas Chabot with Karlsson. They opted to send Chabot back to junior, but that could be an interesting combination if they think he’s ready to be a regular in the NHL.