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