Lightning closing in on Stamkos contract

Despite all the money given out to NHL free agents over last few days, one of the biggest stars in the game still remains unsigned.

With no offer sheet signed by restricted free agent Steven Stamkos, it’s believed the Tampa Bay Lightning have closed in and a formal announcement could be looming.

Sources tell Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos that the Lightning’s last offer was at $37 million over five years — a deal that would put Stamkos’ annual cap hit at $7.4 million.

The two sides have been negotiating a new contract for months, but have been unable to lock in a new deal. There had been reports that some teams may have been preparing an offer sheet for the 21-year-old all-star, but Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman has hinted that the team would match any offer made to Stamkos.

In his first three seasons in the NHL, Stamkos has become one of the game’s most prolific scorers. After netting 23 goals in his rookie season, the Markham, Ont. native broke the 50-goal mark (51) in his sophomore year before adding another 45 last season.

In his first post-season at the NHL level this past spring, Stamkos recorded 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in 18 games during Tampa’s playoff run. The Lightning fell one game shy of reaching the Stanley Cup final, losing to the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final.