Steven Stamkos will be the most talked-about player in the weeks leading up to the Feb. 29 NHL trade deadline.
The Lightning’s superstar center can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, and if Tampa Bay can’t re-sign him before the deadline, general manager Steve Yzerman must decide if it makes sense to trade Stamkos and not risk losing him in free agency without receiving anything in return.
Stamkos recently was asked about the no-movement clause in his contract, which gives him veto power over any trade. He wasn’t very forthcoming with his answer, as you’d expect.
“I think the answer is we’ll cross that bridge at the time,” Stamkos told TSN’s Frank Seravalli. “I don’t think it’s that time right (now). So I continue to come to the rink every day as the leader that I am and the teammate that everyone in this room knows that I am, and give my best effort. I’ve said that since Day 1 of training camp, and that hasn’t changed.”
Stamkos did admit, though, that a resolution is coming soon, whether it’s in the next few weeks or before July 1.
“The trade deadline is coming up in a couple weeks,” Stamkos said. “I’m sure everyone will have some answers in a couple weeks when that time comes. We’ve kept everything to ourselves, and I know it sucks for you (media), I totally understand. But I think you can appreciate the way we’ve conducted business, and whatever happens in the next couple weeks, obviously there’s going to be some answers.”
The Lightning struggled early in the season and were outside of the playoff picture for much of October, November and December, but they have been one of the league’s hottest teams since New Year’s Day. Tampa Bay is 11-4 since the beginning of January and currently sits in the first wild-card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
It’s harder to trade Stamkos when your team looks like a legit contender in the East, especially after coming within two wins of a Stanley Cup title last season. That said, Yzerman must do what’s best for the franchise long-term. The Lightning are not the clear favorite in the East — that team is the Washington Capitals — so it wouldn’t make a ton of sense to risk losing Stamkos for nothing just to take a shot at the Stanley Cup.
Let’s face it, the Lightning as currently constructed aren’t good enough to beat the Capitals or several of the top contenders in the Western Conference.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images
Powered by WordPress.com VIP