Steve Stamkos’ foray into restricted free agency wasn’t exactly a major ordeal for himself or for the Tampa Bay Lightning. After some fretting and nervousness about whether or not Stamkos could be signed to a cap-friendly deal and the possibility that he could be traded because of all that.
Through all of that, however, victory prevailed and Stamkos was re-signed to a five-year, $37 million deal to stay with the Lightning and not cripple their salary cap. Through the entire process, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman was adamant that Stamkos was going to be back no matter what and Stamkos said there’s nowhere else he even thought of playing in the end anyhow.
NHL.com’s Dave Lozo has the story of how Stamkos had nothing but Tampa on his mind… Just like what everyone should’ve known in the first place.
“Being from the Toronto area and being back there in the summer, I heard a lot about the rumors, especially when it went by July 1,” Stamkos said at a Friday press conference to discuss his five-year contract extension with the Lightning. “We said were going to keep things out of the media from both sides, so it was tough trying not to come out and say don’t worry, things are going to get done. At the end of the day, my family and I knew this was going to get done. It was nothing I lost sleep over.”
Stamkos wasn’t losing sleep over it but plenty of Lightning fans were before he signed on. Being a fan is tough sometimes that way, but in Stamkos’ case the fans had nothing to worry about. With restricted free agency being what it is, it would’ve taken an other-worldly offer from another team to get him signed to an offer sheet. Never mind the talk about how the Lightning could’ve entertained thoughts of trading him.
When it comes to restricted free agency, the worrying isn’t usually worth the trouble since offer sheets are rare. While the Lightning could’ve made things easier for themselves and opted to go the same route with Stamkos that the Predators did with Shea Weber or the Devils with Zach Parise and guaranteed keeping him by going to arbitration, they chose to not be held to a schedule and worked things out on their own time.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Kings hope that how the Lightning did things with Stamkos can show them the route to getting a deal done with their own superstar restricted free agent Drew Doughty. If nothing else, it’s just a way for Kings fans to stay sane in seeing things get done with Stamkos with relative ease. At least they know he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.