Steven Stamkos responds to contract offer report

NHL analyst Glenn Healy says if indeed the Lightning have offered Steve Stamkos somewhere in the 8-year, $68 million range, that has been alleged, it's unacceptable and embarrassing.

Steven Stamkos is staying quiet in the face of a leak.

The Tampa Bay Lighting captain is neither confirming nor denying a report by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman that the Tampa Bay Lightning tabled an offer with an average annual salary of $8.5 million.

“I’m not going to comment on that,” Stamkos told the Tampa Bay Times‘ Joe Smith on Sunday.

“We haven’t talked about that stuff in the media all season long, and I don’t know how they get a hold of stuff like that. All the things that we’ve talked about, it’s staying internally, and it’ll continue to be that way.”

Gotta See It: Stamkos talks contract offer report

General manager Steve Yzerman and Stamkos’s representatives at Newport Sports have yet to comment on the reported offer, which would give Stamkos a raise of $1 million per year.

In light of centre Anze Kopitar, another potential unrestricted free agent, accepting an extension valued at $10 million per season, Stamkos will surely be looking for a contract that pays him more than the $8.5 million annually of the reported offer.

The 25-year-old Stamkos ranks second, behind Nikita Kucherov, in team scoring with 20 goals and 37 points through 48 games this season. He has maintained publicly that he wishes to stay in Tampa and win a championship there.

Stamkos admitted Monday that his contract status lingers in the back of his mind but said the arena is his safe zone.

“It’s kind of fun going to the rink knowing you can just clear your mind and play. It hasn’t been too difficult,” Stamkos told reporters.

Was he surprised the $8.5 million figure leaked?

“A little bit,” Stamkos said. “Those guys are good.”

Should Stamkos opt not to re-sign prior to July 1, he will become the highest-profile UFA the league has seen in years.

Over the next two summers, the Lightning must also make decisions on re-signing Kucherov, Victor Hedman, Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Alex Killorn, and Ben Bishop, all of whom will be due for new deals by July 2017.

For comparison’s sake, a salary cap hit of $8.5 million would vault Stamkos’s salary above those of star forwards Ryan Getzlaf, Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux but below those of eight players, including Sidney Crosby, Corey Perry, Evgeni Malkin and Alex Ovechkin.

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