It seems like the Tampa Bay Lightning have covered most of their bases this summer. They brought back veterans such as big-minutes defenseman Eric Brewer and playoff hero/top goalie Dwayne Roloson. They shuffled some of their other blueliners around, losing Mike Lundin while gaining the likes of Matt Gilroy and Bruno Gervais.
That being said, GM Steve Yzerman faces one more medium-sized problem (restricted free agent Teddy Purcell’s pending salary arbitration hearing on July 20) and one huge issue you’ve probably heard plenty about already: Steven Stamkos’ need for a new contract. Those are two tough situations, with Stamkos’ negotiations primed to have the biggest impact on Yzerman’s legacy as a general manager as well as Tampa Bay’s future as a potential long-term contender in the Eastern Conference.
While many opportunistic sites probably want to convince you that a trade or offer sheet might be imminent, Damian Cristodero caught up with Yzerman himself, who said that it should be a quite weekend for negotiations with Stamkos and Purcell.
“All’s quiet,” Yzerman said. “I don’t expect to hear from anybody till Monday. I expect it to be a quiet day today (Saturday) and a quiet day tomorrow (Sunday) as well.”
It is believed negotiations with Stamkos, lately, have made progress. But Yzerman said Stamkos’ agent, Don Meehan, was tied up Friday in New York with the league’s hearing into possible mistakes the Predators made in extending qualifying offers to its restricted free agents, and Yzerman said the plan is for him and Meehan to speak Monday.
As for Purcell, who has a July 20 arbitration hearing, Yzerman said he spoke at length Friday with agent Kent Hughes and expects them to speak again Monday.
“We’d like to get something done,” Yzerman said of reaching a deal before the hearing, “but we’re prepared to go through the process if we have to.”
There must be a sense of urgency to both situations, even if the more literal deadlines are pretty different. Every day the Lightning and Stamkos take to deliberate a deal, they are inviting speculation (and increased risk for offer sheets?) along the way. It’s truly an unusual situation for a player as prominent as Stamkos to even get this far along in the process, although it’s far from an isolated incident considering the fact that the Los Angeles Kings are going through similar issues with superstar defenseman Drew Doughty.
While the stakes are much higher in the Stamkos negotiations, Purcell’s deal is also pressing because of a more obvious deadline. The July 20 hearing could come rather quickly if both sides drag their feet. It might behoove the Lightning to avoid arbitration because judges will probably reward Purcell handsomely for a near point-per-game 2011 playoffs (17 points in 18 postseason contests). If Sean Bergenheim can get almost $3 million per year for scoring less overall and Sergei Kostitsyn gets $2.5 million after producing similar regular season results as Purcell, can’t Teddy get somewhere around $3 million in arbitration?
It’ll be awfully interesting to see how Yzerman handles the landmark negotiations with Stamkos and the tricky ones with Purcell. It sounds like we won’t find out much more until Monday (at the earliest), though.