With another Tampa Bay Lightning season in the books, it’s time to turn the page and look to the future. One of the bigger looming realities around this team is that next season will be the final year of Steven Stamkos’ eight year contract that he signed back in the summer of 2016.
The question marks around the Lightning Captain’s future in Tampa are nowhere near what they were in 2016. In fact, it would be nearly impossible to come close to what they were then. He was considered to be perhaps the biggest potential free agent in NHL history.
In his end of season media availability today, Stamkos expressed that the Lightning jersey is “the only one he ever wants to wear”.
Stamkos will be eligible to sign an extension when NHL Free Agency opens on July 1st. Considering that there doesn’t seem to be any realistic chance of him leaving, it seems somewhat reasonable to expect that Stamkos might be able to get his next contract taken care of this summer.
The Lightning have made it a priority to extend some of their key pieces a year before they hit free agency. That was what they did last summer with Anthony Cirelli, Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak. The difference however is that Stamkos is older. He is 33 years old but the priority to sign him probably should not be much different than anybody who is younger.
Once the Lightning have some clarity on their eight looming free agents for this season, the focus will likely turn to Stamkos and figuring out what he would be looking for in his next contract. Based on what he said however, there should not be any concern at the moment that something will get done.