By: Nick Lanciani
Much to the dismay of free agency fanatics, highly coveted, now former pending UFA, C Steven Stamkos resigned with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday. The deal comes as an 8 year, $68 million contract ($8.500 million AAV cap hit) and runs through the 2023-2024 season.
Stamkos is 26 years old and would have become the league’s biggest commodity this summer, sure to attract $10 million a year offers, had he become a free agent on Friday.
The 1st overall product of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Stamkos has played in 569 career NHL games as a member of the Lightning. He has 312 goals and 250 assists for 562 career points and is nearly a point a game player over his entire career. He has served as Tampa’s captain since March 6, 2014.
The superstar in Tampa scored 36 goals this season in 77 games before being forced out of the lineup with a blood clot. Stamkos is a two-time winner of the Maurice “The Rocket” Richard Trophy, having scored a career high 60 goals in 2011-2012 and tying Pittsburgh Penguins center, Sidney Crosby, for the most in the league with 51 goals in 2009-2010.
Several teams had taken a publicly known interest in trying to lure Stamkos to their organization if he had reached free agency on July 1st, including the Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, Buffalo Sabres, Vancouver Canucks and the Boston Bruins.