Tampa Bay Lightning Trade Rumors: Steven Stamkos To Buffalo Sabres

Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

Rumors are making their way around the National Hockey League that Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos could be headed to the Buffalo Sabres next season.

The Tampa Bay Lightning and their fans knew coming into the off-season there were plenty of questions that were in need of some serious answers. At the forefront of these questions has been the impending Free Agent status of Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos.

As most of you know by now, there was a rumor of Tampa Bay Lightning Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman had made an offer to Steven Stamkos somewhere in the vicinity of $8.5 million per year for a period of eight years. This would total out to around $68 million over the course of the eight-year period.

Coming from a team like the Tampa Bay Lightning without a lot of cap space and monetary assets to move around, this is a pretty sweet deal for the young Lightning captain. Unfortunately, when you look at teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Buffalo Sabres who are desperately searching for answers to heal their ailing offense and become a contender in the NHL, the sky is the limit to what they may offer him.

TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger was on Montreal 690 earlier today and he had some information that may be incredibly interesting to those here in the Bolts Nation. According to Dreger, the Buffalo Sabres are prepared to go “all-in” on Steven Stamkos and could be offering the Lightning captain somewhere in the means of $12 million per year.

"“There’s a lot of speculation that they’re going absolutely all-in on Steven Stamkos.” Dreger told Montreal 690. “I mean, some of the numbers being rumored, and I always hate throwing out or building off rumors, because as an Insider, our job is to separate fact from fiction. But Newport isn’t talking and neither is the Tampa Bay Lightning, so nothing has changed there. But some of the numbers being speculated on are upwards of $12 million per year coming out of Buffalo.”"

As much as we hate to say it, that’s a lot more than Yzerman is going to be able to offer here in Tampa Bay. There have been numerous occasions where Steven Stamkos has said that he wants to remain a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning and he is looking to win a championship with this team. While his intentions may be pure of heart, will he be able to walk away from what is essentially a $3.5 million per year difference?

If offered a seven-year contract at $12 million a year, he would come out with around $84 million as opposed to the $68 million he would receive here in Tampa Bay. Granted, the tax situation in the State of Florida is much more appealing to professional athletes like Steven Stamkos, but that is still a very large differential.

There is one glaring difference between these two teams, and we’re not talking about the amount of money they have to attract Steven Stamkos. The Tampa Bay Lightning are absolutely jam-packed with talent who could easily help lead the Lightning to yet another successful run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

On the other side of the ice, the Buffalo Sabres are in a full-on rebuilding period. Having been down this road once already with the Tampa Bay Lightning, would Steven Stamkos be willing to put himself in the same position for the second time? At the end of the day, the answer to this question is going to come down to one question, is Stamkos in the game for the money or because he loves the game and wants to win?

One would think if Steven Stamkos was determined to win a championship with the Tampa Bay Lightning, his contract would have been signed, sealed, and delivered before the NHL Trade Deadline. When this did not come to pass, many questions were raised by the Tampa Bay Lightning fanbase.

Right now, there is only one person who can answer the aforementioned questions, and that person is Steven Stamkos himself. Unfortunately, at least for the time being, neither Stamkos, his agent nor the Tampa Bay Lightning seem to be willing to offer up any information.

We are a mere nine days between now and the start of the NHL Free Agency Period. This means the questions the Bolts Nation have been dying to have answered will soon have the answers they seek, for better or worse. Whether Stamkos decides to play the field or not remains to be seen, but what remains clear is that his future is in his hands and his hands alone.

Next: 5 Possible Destinations For A Free Agent Stamkos

The Tampa Bay Lightning still have many questions that need answers before the 2016-17 season begins. Unfortunately, many of those answers hinge on whether or not Steven Stamkos remains in Tampa Bay. As July 1st comes closer, we’re sure the bigger picture will start to come into focus and we can see which direction this storyline will head as the Lightning prepare for the 2016-17 season.