DIRK SHADD | Times
While Steven Stamkos had many other suitors, including his hometown Maple Leafs, he spurned potential sweepstakes — and more money — to stay with the Lightning.
Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said there were a couple sleepless nights throughout this whirlwind contract saga.
"It was a very tough decision, it truly was," Stamkos said on a conference call. "I can't say this past week has been fun. It was pretty stressful to be honest."
And while Stamkos, 26, had many other suitors, including his hometown Maple Leafs, he spurned potential sweepstakes - and more money - in Friday's free agency to stay with the Lightning. In the end, Stamkos said, that's where he always wanted to be.
"I felt in my heart that Tampa was always the place I wanted to stay," Stamkos said. "It was just following your heart and being loyal to the organization that brought me up and made me the player and person that I am today."
Stamkos signed an eight-year, $68 million deal ($8.5 million annual average) with the Lightning, acknowledging he likely left some money on the table with other teams; he declined to discuss what teams pursued him, or what they pitched). But Stamkos, picked No. 1 overall by Tampa Bay in 2008, said the Lightning gives him the best chance to win, the organization treating him and his family "first-class." …Full Story
DIRK SHADD | Times
Matt Carle was Tampa Bay's highest paid defenseman last season at $5.5 million, but his role was declining, often a healthy scratch.
Veteran defenseman Matt Carle is being bought out by the Lightning, giving the team much-needed cap relief as it tries to sign other restricted free agents.
Carle, 31, was Tampa Bay's highest paid defenseman last season at $5.5 million, but his role was declining, often a healthy scratch, including in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final. His buyout would save $3.67 million off the cap the next two seasons, his buyout spread out over the next four at $1.833 cap hit each season.
With the emergence of prospect Slater Koekkoek, who got key playing time in the playoffs, he should get a shot at cracking the top-six/seven next season, along with Nikita Nesterov, who is a restricted free agent.
After captain Steven Stamkos' eight-year, $68 million contract signed yesterday, the Lightning had just over $9 million in cap space remaining for next season, per generalfanager.com. The Carle buyout provides more cushion, needed as the Lightning needs to resign RFAs like Nikita Kucherov, who is due a big raise from $700,000, Alex Killorn and Vladislav Namestnikov. …Full Story
All along, captain Steven Stamkos maintained he wanted to re-sign with the Lightning.
But as Stamkos came just two days away from unrestricted free agency, getting courted by other teams, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman admittedly had his doubts.
"Quite honestly, I didn't know how it was going to play out," Yzerman said.
But, in the end, Stamkos is staying, signing an eight-year deal worth $8.5 million annually, with a full-no move clause. TSN's Bob McKenzie was the first to report the story Wednesday. The Tampa Bay Times confirmed the news.
“It’s not often that a player gets the chance to spend his career in one organization and I am hopeful that this agreement sets me on that path with the Tampa Bay Lightning," Stamkos said in a statement. "Most importantly, I look forward to working with my teammates, coaches and our management in our pursuit of winning a Stanley Cup.”
Stamkos, 26, had been talking with other teams through a five-day interview window. The Leafs, Red Wings, Sabres were among many teams interested. Other teams were expected to offer more than $8.5 million annually, but a Times analysis showed that with no state income taxes, the Lightning could help bridge the gap. …Full Story
Getty Images (2011)
Andrew Ladd, right, has drawn interest from the Lightning, along with the Predators, Islanders and Canadiens.
Lightning GM Steve Yzerman has said they had to go forward with some decisions and plans, even as the wait continues on whether captain Steven Stamkos will re-sign.
And it appears one contingency plan could involve veteran wing Andrew Ladd.
Ladd, 30, an unrestricted free agent, has drawn interest from the Lightning, along with the Predators, Islanders and Canadiens. It makes sense, with Ladd a five-time 20-goal scorer in the last six years, including racking up 25 split between Chicago and Winnipeg last season.
Ladd, at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, would also provide size and a physical presence that the Lightning could use in its forward group.
It's unclear how much interest Tampa Bay has in Ladd, or how much the wing would want in free agency (he had a $4.5 million cap hit). But rest assured, he won't be the only name that is linked to the Lightning in coming days.
Free agency opens Friday at 12:01 p.m.Full Story
DIRK SHADD | Times
Steven Stamkos, with a full no-move clause, would have to give permission, holding the cards to go to the team of his choosing.
The Steven Stamkos Sweeptakes could be over before Friday's opening of free agency, whether he re-signs with the Lightning or not.
That's because there may be motivation, from both Tampa Bay and Stamkos, to orchestrate a sign-and-trade, if it's decided the captain isn't returning to the Lightning.
For Stamkos, 26, it's the only way he'd be able to get an eighth year on a contract from anyone, including the Lightning. Everyone, including Tampa Bay, can only offer seven when free agency opens at noon Friday. For Tampa Bay, a sign-and-trade is a way to get an asset for Stamkos as opposed to losing a generational scorer and face of the franchise for nothing.
GM Steve Yzerman was asked at last weekend's NHL Draft if he'd consider a sign-and-trade with Stamkos, if he knew the All-Star center was gone.
"Never given it a thought so maybe I should think about it,” Yzerman said. “It’s an interesting idea … well losing him for nothing or losing him for an asset? I’d love to get an asset for him." …Full Story
With captain Steven Stamkos just four days away from being the most coveted unrestricted free agent in years, there will be no shortage of suitors likely offering more annually than the Lightning.
Tampa Bay is still in the mix, however.
Aside from being a great on-ice fit, the Lightning. which is believed to have offered Stamkos an extension with worth $8.5 million annually, holds a couple x-factors over other suitors in that there's no state income taxes in Florida and the Lightning is the only team that can offer him eight year contract (others only seven). As Tampa Bay Times analysis in January showed Stamkos could net nearly the same annually after taxes in Tampa Bay at $8.5 million as $10 million in New York (Rangers, Islanders), presuming he’d be a New York City resident (see chart); Stamkos would make more over the length of the deal in Tampa because of the extra year. Stamkos would net just $500,000 less annually than a $10 million deal Detroit, another strong suitor, but, again, more over the length of the deal. …Full Story
The Lightning issued qualifying offers Monday to most of their remaining restricted free agents, including wings Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn.
Vladislav Namestnikov, Kristers Gudlevskis, Nikita Nesterov, Tye McGinn, Yanni Gourde also received qualifying offers.
Teams had until 5 p.m. Monday to give qualifying offers, otherwise the players would become unrestricted free agents.
The Lightning still has to sign these players, Kucherov, Killorn and Namestnikov no doubt top priorities. Kucherov wiill get a big bump from his $700,000 salary, and is the one most likely to get an offer sheet from another team. Other teams can start talking to RFAs on Tuesday.
Tampa Bay already signed RFAs J.T. Brown. Cedric Paquette and Luke Witkowski over the weekend. The agents for Kucherov, Killorn and Namestnikov said they planned to be in touch with Tampa Bay this week.
DIRK SHADD | Times
Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) celebrates after he shoots and scores the game winning goal in the shoot out to beat the Winnipeg Jets with a final score of 6 to 5 at the Amalie Arena in Tampa in February.
The Steven Stamkos Sweepstakes have officially begun, and there's going to be no shortage of suitors trying to reel him in.
""We're going to chase the big fish," Sabres GM Tim Murray said.
At midnight Friday, Stamkos, 26, the Lightning superstar captain, reached the five-day interview period, where other teams can court him before he becomes an unrestricted free agent July 1. The Sabres plan to make a strong push, Murray saying he's going to show Stamkos their "blueprint." The Red Wings freed up $7.5 million in cap space in dealing Pavel Datsyuk's contract Friday night, with GM Ken Holland saying they're going after a high impact forward. TSN reported Detroit may offer the max of seven years at $10 million annually. Stamkos' hometown Maple Leafs may offer more money, not to mention sizable endorsement potential.
Canucks Jim Benning may get fined for tampering for saying Thursday he planned to call Stamkos. Teams aren't allowed to talk money during the interview period, but can sell free agents like Stamkos in other ways, gauging his interest. Murray said he has no sense if Stamkos is interested in Buffalo. …Full Story
DIRK SHADD | Times (2014)
The Lightning drafted Anthony DeAngelo 19th overall in 2014.
When the Lightning Anthony DeAngelo 19th overall in 2014, it showed a lot of faith and confidence in the touted defenseman despite supposed character concerns.
Tampa Bay loved DeAngelo's puck-moving abilities and offensive skill, the kind of player that can impact a power play.
But just two years later, DeAngelo is gone, the Lightning trading him to Arizona Saturday for the 37th overall pick, which they used to pick defenseman Libor Hajek. DeAngelo was coming off a tough first pro season with AHL Syracuse, a minus-18 while getting healthy scratched eight times. DeAngelo tweeted he was excited to be with the Coyotes, thanking Tampa Bay.
It sounds like it might have been a mutual parting, or even initiated by DeAngelo himself.
"I wish things could have been different but I think this is better for all involved," said DeAngelo's father, Lou. "We are thankful for the opportunity... We were looking for an opportunity to play in the NHL sooner rather than later."
Former Syracuse coach Rob Zettler said at the end of the season DeAngelo's struggles were mostly in the defensive zone, as he's obviously a gifted offensive player. …Full Story
DIRK SHADD | Times
Calgary would likely need to know it can sign Bishop long-term before any potential trade.
UPDATE, 8:20 p.m.: The Calgary Flames acquired goalie Brian Elliott from the St. Louis Blues, eliminating one potential suitor for the Lightning's Ben Bishop. The Blues received the 35th overall pick in the draft and a conditional third-round pick.
The price for Elliott was likely less than what the Lightning would have asked for Bishop, a two-time Vezina Trophy finalist. While TSN's Bob McKenzie reported the Flames had received permission to talk to Bishop's camp about contract, those discussions were never initiated, the Times has learned.
DEVELOPING: Goalie Ben Bishop could be in his final hours with the Lightning.
The Flames are pushing hard for a No. 1 goaltender, and have been in talks with Tampa Bay about Bishop, a two-time Vezina Trophy finalist. Calgary has also been talking to St. Louis about Brian Elliott.
TSN's Bob McKenzie reported this evening that the Flames have been given permission to talk contract with Bishop, who is entering the final year of his deal with a $5.95 million cap hit. To get that permission appears like talks are in advanced stages. Calgary would likely need to know it can sign Bishop long-term before the trade. …Full Story
DIRK SHADD | Times
J.T. Brown, a key bottom-six forward and penalty killer, received a $2.5 million deal ($1.25 million per year).
The Lightning started chipping away at its many restricted free agents Friday, signing three, including RW J.T. Brown and C Cedric Paquette to two-year deals.
D Luke Witkowski also signed a one-year deal.
Brown, a key bottom-six forward and penalty killer, received a $2.5 million deal ($1.25 million per year), with Paquette $1.625 million ($800,000 next season, $825,000) in 2017-18.
Tampa Bay still has several restricted free agents to lock up, including RW Nikita Kucherov, a 30-goal scorer who is due a big raise from the $700,000 he made last season. The Lightning has had preliminary discussions with Kucherov's camp, but so far preliminary, with no offers yet. There should be more talk leading up until July 1 and after.
RW Alex Killorn and C Vladislav Namestnikov also are restricted free agents, along with G Kristers Gudlevskis. Pat Brisson, Namestnikov's agent, said he plans to talk to Tampa Bay in the next week. The Lightning has an estimated $18.3875 million in cap space for next season, according to generalfanager.com. That doesn't include a potential contract for C Steven Stamkos, either. …Full Story
Lightning goalie Ben Bishop has been one of the hottest names on the trade market, especially with the Flames looking for a No. 1 goalie.
And general manager Steve Yzerman said Thursday he's spoken with every team that potentially might need a goaltender to see if there's a fit.
Whether a deal happens during this weekend's NHL Draft, or ever, remains to be seen.
"If or when the time comes, if a deal makes sense, I'm prepared to do it," Yzerman said. "Not to wait for better because better might not come along. It's a little tricky with the goaltenders and things can change. If at any point there's an opportunity that makes sense, I'd be prepared to act upon it."
Bishop, who has one more year left on his deal (at $5.95 million cap hit), has a partial no-move clause, meaning there's a list of teams he can be dealt to without his permission. As of Thursday night, teams had yet to be given permission to speak with Bishop's camp regarding a new contract, which would seem to be a precursor to any deal.
Yzerman indicated there's no pressure to make a deal this weekend, other than if a first-round pick in Friday's draft is involved. Calgary has the No. 6 pick, for example.
Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman indicated Thursday he's gotten the clarity he needs regarding captain Steven Stamkos' contract situation.
"For the time being," he said.
Yzerman is just not ready to reveal it.
"I think between myself, (agent Don Meehan) and (Stamkos), we know where we're at," Yzerman said.
Yzerman, being purposely coy, knows other teams can start talking to Stamkos Friday night at midnight, per the five-day interview window. Several teams are expected to jump at that chance. But Yzerman said they haven't "ruled anything out" in terms of still being able to sign Stamkos by July 1, when he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
"Obviously he's still the property of the Tampa Bay Lightning," Yzerman said. "Until July 1. Anything is possible. No doors have been closed."
Now what does that mean? It's hard, and probably unfair, to read too much into Yzerman's comments. It could mean the Lightning gave Stamkos' their best offer, and Stamkos' camp said they want to at least see what else is out there first. Stamkos has said, after all, his preference is to stay. But it'd be worth his time to do his due diligence. After all, he's waited this long. …Full Story
LOREN ELLIOTT | Times
Ben Bishop's name has come up in trade rumors due to the fact he has just one year left on his deal, at $5.95 million cap hit.
It's no secret the Calgary Flames are looking for a No. 1 goaltender, hoping to land one at this weekend's draft.
And you'd have to think they'd try to pry Lightning goalie Ben Bishop.
TSN insider Darren Dreger spoke with Flames GM Brad Treliving, and on a radio spot, said. "It sure sounds like (Treliving) looking at Ben Bishop real hard."
"We’re in a bunch of different markets on that, so we’ll see how it goes,” Treliving said, per Sportsnet. “We’re looking at everything and balancing it.
“This is the time. You need a dance partner, that’s how it works, and you’d like to get [the goalie situation] taken care of. That’s sort of our preference right now.”
Bishop's name has come up in trade rumors due to the fact he has just one year left on his deal, at $5.95 million cap hit. And with the league expanding to Las Vegas for the 2017-18 season, the Lightning can't protect both Bishop and future No. 1 Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Lightning GM Steve Yzerman has said he knows he has to eventually make a decision at goalie, but indicated he could still see a possibility where both Bishop and Vasilevskiy start the season in Tampa Bay. …Full Story
DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times
Ryan Callahan will miss five months, which includes the World Cup of Hockey, and likely the first month of the season.
Lightning wing Ryan Callahan was playing through an undisclosed lower body injury late in the season and throughout the playoffs.
Now we know how serious it was.
Callahan, 31, underwent surgery Tuesday to repair a labral tear in his right hip, which will force him to miss five months, which includes September's World Cup and the first month of the season, which begins Oct. 13.
Callahan's surgery was performed in New York by Dr. Bryan Kelly.
Agent Steve Bartlett said the hip injury nagged Callahan for the second half of the season, leading him to miss the final three regular season games and sit out some practices during the playoffs. Callahan considered trying rehab before settling on surgery, Bartlett said. Callahan was scheduled to participate in the World Cup with Team USA, the tournament starting in mid-September. …Full Story