Report: Lightning ‘would prefer’ Stamkos to play wing

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From Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, reporting on the contract talks between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Steven Stamkos:

Stamkos prefers to play center, which creates a top-six logjam with Valtteri Filppula and triplet Tyler Johnson. It sounds like the Lightning would prefer Stamkos to play on the wing to ease that issue. From what I’ve been told, the discussions were professional, but both organization and player remain searching for common ground.

This same issue came up during last year’s playoffs, when Stamkos was shifted to the wing “to free him up a little bit, and let him get out of the zone a little faster,” according to coach Jon Cooper.

The center position is generally considered a tougher position to play, given the additional responsibility in the defensive zone. Partly for that reason, it’s wingers that tend to make up the majority of the NHL’s goal-scoring leaders. Alex Ovechkin. Rick Nash. Phil Kessel. Vladimir Tarasenko. Max Pacioretty. Corey Perry. Jarome Iginla. All wingers.

While nobody’s saying that this is an issue that will keep Stamkos from re-signing with the Lightning, it’s one to keep in mind as the offseason comes to an end.

Related: Stamkos extension ‘No. 1 priority’ this offseason, says Yzerman