Now feels like a good time to debate Stamkos’ next contract

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Some interesting debate fodder here, from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe:

The notion sounds so goofy that it should be promptly dismissed. Steven Stamkos is Tampa Bay’s captain and signature player. But there is chatter wondering if Stamkos’s eventual blockbuster contract — he will be a UFA on July 1, 2016 — would be steep enough to prompt the Lightning to deal their captain. This speaks to several things: Stamkos’s asking price, uncertainty about the salary cap in the future, and Tampa’s depth. 

We’d add that Stamkos has played almost 500 games in the NHL, plus the playoffs. He’s only 25, but the Lightning know as well as any team that a superstar forward’s numbers can really fall off as he approaches the age of 30.

Lest we forget how productive Vincent Lecavalier was when he was Stamkos’ current age, and how quickly he suddenly wasn’t…

source:

Lecavalier started an 11-year, $85 million contract in 2009-10. That same contract was bought out in 2013. This past season, he was a frequent healthy scratch in Philadelphia.

Knowing that, might the Bolts think twice before signing Stamkos to the kind of deal that Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane got in Chicago? Because that’s the kind of max-term, big-money commitment he’d be able to get elsewhere.

For the record, Stamkos said in January that he was happy in Tampa Bay, and GM Steve Yzerman said it was the club’s “priority” to get an extension done this summer.

In fact, Yzerman said he wants Stamkos to lead the Bolts “for many years to come.” No wonder given what it takes to acquire a player of Stamkos’ caliber in the first place. The Lightning probably aren’t a win away from the Stanley Cup Final without him.

Of course, with the leverage Stamkos will bring into negotiations, “many years” may be Yzerman’s only option, for better or worse.

Related: In case you haven’t noticed, the NHL is a young man’s game

Bolts ‘looking for a guy who plays my way,’ says prospect Erne

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These are good times for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Just one win away from their first Stanley Cup Final appearance in 11 years, the Lightning are also starring at the Memorial Cup courtesy Quebec Remparts sniper Adam Erne, the club’s second-round pick (33rd overall) at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

Erne, who has 22 goals in 23 playoff games thus far — including one in the Remparts’ tournament-opening win against Kelowna — has always been closely tied to another of Tampa’s top prospects, Jonathan Drouin. Drouin went No. 3 overall in that same ’13 Draft class, and the two were involved in an incident during last year’s QMJHL campaign, when Erne concussed Drouin with a hit from behind.

It’s physicality that sets the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Erne apart. While Drouin is an elite-level skill guy, Erne projects to be more of a banger-and-crasher at the NHL level — which could make for a smoother transition than what Drouin, a healthy scratch for most of the playoffs, has experienced trying to get minutes in Tampa Bay’s top-six.

“I’m a different player than (Drouin),” Erne explained, per the Montreal Gazette. “Obviously, he’s a special player, but at the same time, there are so many guys on that team that are really skilled, smaller guys.

“Fortunately for me, from what they’re telling me, they’re looking for a guy who plays my way. A bigger guy, playing a power forward role. It’ll take a lot of work on my part, but at the same time, fortunately for me, it’s something I think they need.”

Looking ahead, it’ll be interesting to see where Erne fits in Tampa Bay. He’s rebounded well after some setbacks this season — he was cut early from training camp, and failed to make Team USA for the World Juniors — and could be in line for a bottom-six role with the Lightning next year, possibly replacing pending UFA Brenden Morrow.

That said, a trip to the AHL seems most likely, given all the success the organization’s had with grooming players in the American League.

With chance to finish off Rangers, Lightning need to avoid another ‘letdown’

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So the Tampa Bay Lightning are headed home with an opportunity to finish off the New York Rangers. A win Tuesday and the Bolts will be off to the Stanley Cup Final.

For their sake, they’d better show a little more killer instinct than they did earlier in these playoffs.

In the first round, the Lightning were fortunate to beat the Red Wings in Game 7, after Detroit outshot them 31-17. In the second round, they had an opportunity to sweep the Montreal Canadiens, only to lose 6-2.

Both those games were at home.

Knowing that, Lightning captain Steven Stamkos is hoping his team has learned from the past.

“I think in these playoffs we’ve had a big emotional win, and we’ve kind of had a letdown game,” he said after last night’s big emotional victory in New York.

“I think we’ve learned our lesson pretty quick. Toughest one to win is the fourth one, especially at this time of the year, when it’s to go to the final.”

Remember that there’s a guy in the Rangers’ crease who’s been pretty good in the seventh games of playoff series, so the Lightning could be in tough if they lose Tuesday.

Bolts’ Coburn missed final two periods due to illness

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The Tampa Bay Lightning were reduced to six defensemen for the final two periods of Sunday’s 2-0 win because Braydon Coburn was sick.

The Bolts’, who dressed seven defensemen with Matt Carle returning from an undisclosed injury, lost Coburn after the first period.

Tampa head coach Jon Cooper suggested the blue liner was physically ill on the team’s bench.

“I don’t know what TV cameras picked stuff up. We had issues on the bench, so I’ve got to find out more of what’s going on,” said Cooper. “But, there was, yeah. Don’t walk on our bench. That’s what I’m going to say.”

Coburn, who has a goal and two assists while averaging 16:36 in ice time in 18 playoff games, was limited to just eight shifts and 5:43 of ice time on Sunday.

PHT Morning Skate: Barber cuts portrait of Lundqvist into fan’s hair

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Earlier this month a New York Rangers fan had a portrait of Chris Kreider shaved into his head. Ahead of Game 5 barber Joe Barajas was at it again this time shaving a portrait of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist into a fan’s head. (Puck Daddy)

The Anaheim Ducks’ three-goals in 37-seconds on Saturday night presented an opportunity for Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville to reflect on his playing days. Quenneville was a part of the 1979 Toronto Maple Leafs, which scored three times in a 23-second span. (Toronto Sun)

Entourage star Kevin Dillon took in Game 5 of the Lightning-Rangers series on Sunday night at MSG. (Sportsnet)

Don Cherry believes the Leafs should strip Dion Phaneuf of the captaincy. (Sportsnet)

Former NHLer Glen Murray developing reputation for developing talent. (The Boston Globe)

A Rangers fan had quite the jersey foul Sunday night at MSG. (Sporting News)

The NHL on NBC crew breaks down the keys to Ben Bishop’s success in Game 5: