The Tampa Bay Lightning want to make one thing very clear: Teams hoping to swing a midseason trade for Steven Stamkos will end up disappointed.
Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman announced Monday that the team will not trade Stamkos, an impending free agent, before the NHL’s Feb. 29 trade deadline.
“As Feb. 29 approaches, I am stating today that Steven Stamkos will not be traded before the NHL’s trade deadline,” Yzerman said in a statement. “I have said repeatedly that it is our hope to reach an agreement with Steven on a new contract at some point, and with 27 games remaining in the season, our entire organization, Steven included, wants to focus on making the playoffs. I will keep the negotiating process strictly between the involved parties and have no further comment on the state of those negotiations.”
Stamkos will be this summer’s marquee free agent if he and the Lightning can’t come to terms on a contract extension. His hometown team, the Maple Leafs, is expected to be a front-runner to acquire the 26-year-old centerman after the blockbuster Dion Phaneuf trade allowed Toronto to clear massive amounts of salary-cap space.
The Lightning, who lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final last season, entered Monday in possession of the second wild-card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Stamkos ranks second on the team in both goals (22) and points (42) behind winger Nikita Kucherov.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos