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No more waiting: Lightning sign Steven Stamkos to five-year, $37.5 million deal

Jul 19, 2011, 3:59 PM EDT

Steven Stamkos Getty Images

If you’ve been sweating things out all summer waiting to see what happens with Lightning superstar restricted free agent Steve Stamkos, your wait is over.

Tampa Bay announced they’ve signed Stamkos to a five-year contract to stick around with the fast-rising Lightning. The Sporting News’ Craig Custance tweets that the deal is worth $7.5 million per year against the cap bringing the total worth of the contract to $37.5 million. The rumors that swirled around the deal the two sides were working on proved to be true as the final amount of the deal was what was being floated in reports.

What proved to be totally unfounded were the trade rumors and potential offer sheets that were coming Stamkos’ way if the Lightning and GM Steve Yzerman kept taking their time getting a deal done. Yzerman had this to say about the deal in the team’s press release.

“Steven is extremely important to this franchise and is part of the foundation of our hockey team,” Yzerman said.  “We are very pleased to have him signed and look forward to seeing him in a Lightning uniform for years to come.”

Yzerman should be excited about keeping Stamkos in Tampa. Stamkos has scored 96 goals over the last two seasons and proved to be MVP-like in his play the first half of this season helping keep the Lightning afloat as the team adjusted to new coach Guy Boucher’s system. Stamkos’ ability to score seemingly at will on the power play from the face off circles helped further establish his star power and credibility after tying for the Rocket Richard Trophy two seasons ago scoring 51 goals. Scoring 45 goals this past year and breaking the 90 point barrier for the second year in a row have proven what an important player he is for the Lightning and why he’s their go-to guy up the middle now.

While Stamkos is now one of the premiere stars in the NHL, he managed to cut the Lightning a bit of a break in signing his new deal. Other NHL superstars Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby took larger and/or longer deals than Stamkos did when their entry level deals expired.

Ovechkin signed a 13-year, $124 million deal with Washington while Crosby signed a five-year $43 million deal. You can argue players worth all you’d like, but Tampa getting Stamkos locked up for less than either of those players is a major win for the team. After all, it’s not as if Stamkos is going poor here either.

According to CapGeek, Stamkos’ deal leaves Tampa Bay under the salary cap by more than $7 million and they’ve got one more RFA left to sign in Teddy Purcell. Looks like Yzerman is doing just fine with his cap management skills. Stamkos joins Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier as the highest paid players on the team and his deal is still dwarfed by the one Lecavalier signed back in 2009 that goes for 11 years and $85 million.

It’s just further proof that getting Stamkos locked up to the deal he got today is huge for the team and a sign of the times under a new regime in Tampa Bay.

  1. sknut - Jul 19, 2011 at 4:37 PM

    This is a win for both sides, it gives TB cost control for the next 5 years, and Stamkos still has a chance to be a prime free agent in 5 years. I will be interested to see how teams line up their cap space knowing that he will be a free agent again and a chance to pounce on him at that point. (This is assuming he stays healthy, which is probably the biggest risk for Stamkos.)

  2. nhlbruins90 - Jul 19, 2011 at 4:44 PM

    Makes Yzerman look brilliant compared to the idiots who signed Lecavalier to a monster deal for 11 years. At least they have competent management down there now.

  3. jpelle82 - Jul 19, 2011 at 6:49 PM

    kudos to yzerman. not surprised stamkos went with a crosby type contract rather than an ovechkin monstrosity. positions him well in 5 years and gives him the strong time window for a solid couple runs at the cup with a good core group.

    • stakex - Jul 20, 2011 at 2:50 AM

      Well from a players perspective, its actually smart to have a long term contract. What if you sign a short deal and then get hurt (career ending) in the final year, or what if you have a massive falloff in production? With a short contract your SOL, but with a long term deal…. you get your money no matter what.

      Obviouslly for a team its probably better not to have massive contracts for the same exact reasons. But then again, what if Tampa Bay has a downturn in the next few years? When 5 years are up, Stamkos will be gone… something that could be prevented with a long term deal like Ovechkins. So long as he stays healthy, Washington has assured themselves they will have the best player in the NHL on their team for the next decade. That sure would make me sleep well at night as a GM.

      In the end, there are risk and rewards for both short and long contracts. There is no “perfect” contract… and its really depends on the player and the situation.

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