To no surprise, Tampa Bay Lightning general manger Steve Yzerman says his top priority this summer is signing Steven Stamkos to a long-term contract extension.
“We said in September that we’d sit down at the end of the year and get that done, and that’s my intention,” Yzerman told reporters in Tampa Wednesday. “We’ve got a good team, he’s our captain, and it’s our intention to get him signed to a long-term deal.”
The Lightning lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final and although Stamkos registered just one assist in the series he is still the cornerstone of the franchise.
“He put the team ahead of himself, he played through injury, he played hard, did everything we asked,” Yzerman added. “He’s a tremendous leader, a very unselfish guy and a big reason we got to Game 6 of the finals.”
Stamkos has one year remaining on his contract before he’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent in 2016. His current salary cap hit $7.5 million, but with 276 goals, and 498 points in 492 career games, he should undoubtedly get a significant raise on his next deal.
The 25-year-old said he isn’t concerned about contract talks, but realizes it could become a distraction if he enters next season as a pending UFA.
“I’ve said it all along, I want to win a championship with this group,” Stamkos told reporters. “It’s been a great ride this year. I know we’ll have some talks, whether it’s in the next day or weeks, I don’t know. But we’ll definitely be getting something worked out hopefully shortly.”
He added: “Whenever [Lightning management] want to start talking, we’ll be there listening. We have a lot of time in this summer. I’m not worried at all about that.”