Yes, the NHL trade deadline is now less than two weeks away. And the world’s slowest negotiations, between the Lightning and Steven Stamkos, still isn’t complete. So could moving him be an eventuality for the Lightning?
Probably not. Even if Stamkos ends up somewhere else, it isn’t likely to happen quickly. Stamkos has a no-trade clause in his contract, which means he doesn’t have to go anywhere if he doesn’t want. Besides, the team is on the fringes of the playoffs, and they aren’t likely to get there without him. As long as there is the possibility of a deal, it’s unlikely that Stamkos would go anywhere else.
“As February 29th approaches, I am stating today that Stamkos will not be traded before the NHL’s trade deadline,” general manger Steve Yzerman said Monday afternoon. “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.”
So what’s taking so long. It’s hard to say, since neither team is talking. It has been reported that the Lightning has offered Stamkos a deal worth $8.5 million a year, which suggests that the team isn’t willing to go over $10 million. It doesn’t help that Stamkos is having one of his worst seasons.
Toronto has been the most-whispered future home for Stamkos. The Leafs recently cleared payroll, and since it’s Stamkos’ home town, the rumors have grown.
The Lightning has several other players to sign in the coming seasons, however: Victor Hedman and Nikita Kucherov among them. Yzerman has to be careful that he doesn’t pay Stamkos so much he can’t afford others.
The stare-down between the two is likely to continue through the season. Stamkos has suggested that this is where he wants to play, but if so, he might leave cash on the table.