Stamkos happy to ‘just focus on hockey’ after trade speculation quelled

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Perhaps for now at least, Steven Stamkos can breathe a sigh of relief.

Earlier this week, his general manager in Tampa Bay, Steve Yzerman, publicly announced that Stamkos, a pending unrestricted free agent at the end of the season unless an extension between him and the Lightning can get worked out, will not be traded before the deadline.

Talk surrounding the future of Stamkos in Tampa Bay has persisted throughout the year. He’s still without a contract for next season and could hit the open market this summer.

Yzerman’s statement at least quiets trade speculation surrounding Stamkos, and just as the Lightning prepare for the stretch drive while currently sitting outside a playoff spot.

“This is a decision by both parties that we thought was the best route on something that I wanted,” said Stamkos, according to Sportsnet.

“I’m obviously looking forward to not having to deal with all the questions for the remainder of the season and just focus on hockey and just do my best to help the team win.”

The Lightning made it to the Stanley Cup Final last year and while the road is a difficult one, especially if the Washington Capitals get in the way, Tampa Bay still has aspirations of trying to get back to the championship series this year.

They still have to make the playoffs. They’re currently outside a Wild Card spot in the East.

“Hopefully, this lightens the load a little bit,” said Stamkos. “But it shouldn’t make a difference in the way I approach things. I’ve said all along since training camp that I want to be here and win a championship here.”