The 2016 NHL trade deadline lost a bit of luster on Monday, as the Tampa Bay Lightning announced that captain Steven Stamkos will not be traded before the Feb. 29 deadline.
Lightning vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman broke the news in a prepared statement on Monday, reiterating that the team and Stamkos both intend to sign a contract extension and focus on making the playoffs in the current season.
No mistaking Yzerman's feelings here. pic.twitter.com/DdG5Y3I8nw— Adam Kimelman (@NHLAdamK) February 15, 2016
Stamkos is in the final year of a five-year, $37 million contract he signed in 2011 as a restricted free agent. He is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, but contract negotiations appear to be underway. In January, reports surfaced that the Lightning had offered Stamkos an eight-year, $68 million contract that would've paid him $8.5 million per season. As a starting offer, the final number is expected to be much higher.
Meanwhile, rumors abound where Stamkos will end up if not with Tampa Bay. Toronto (his hometown) has long been rumored as a destination, while recent reports have suggested the Buffalo Sabres are his top target. Since neither Yzerman or Stamkos intend to speak about it, the truth is now anyone's guess until the offseason.