I don’t think anyone at the beginning of the season could have anticipated that the team with the most drama this year would be the Tampa Bay Lightning. After playing in the Stanley Cup last year, this season looked like it should have been a cake walk for the Lightning.
They didn’t know how involved the Steven Stamko’s circus was going to be. Luckily for the team, they have apparently had some conversations recently with the star center.
Sportnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that the Lightning put out an offer of eight years with an AAV of $8.5 million a year to Stamkos. This was presented on “Hockey Night in Canada’s” headlines segment. Interestingly enough, Friedman said the offer was made “sometime in the last few weeks”.
Where does Stamkos stand in the pantheon of NHL centers?
He had been over a point-per-game for the Lightning, but as he gets more and more responsibility, it seems as if his offensive play hasn’t been up to his usual standard. He has also been moved around to play on the wing. Are the Lightning messing up a good thing? One would assume so as they don’t need to make their situation more complicated than it already is.
Comparing him to centers that have recently received new contracts, he is a much better pure scorer but doesn’t have the same possession numbers of players like Toews and Kopitar. Are they going to be able to use him correctly?
They should use him as an offensive weapon and if they don’t utilize him in that fashion, then they may be wasting some great years from Stamkos. It should be known that in the years he has done “poorly” on offense were the years the Lightning have done the best in the playoffs. It has already been an awkward dance. They need to come to a decision and come to it fast or the team is going to only damage themselves.
Friedman in his “30 Thoughts” column addressed the offer as nothing more than a jumping off point:
“Obviously, it was not accepted, but it would be wrong to use the word “rejected.” My sense is it’s a negotiation point, an attempt to see where everyone stands.”
The Lightning are painting themselves into a corner and if they aren’t careful that could mean a Stamko-less team next season.