Tampa Bay Lightning superstar forward Steven Stamkos is in the final year of his contract, leading to speculation the team might look to trade him this season before he hits free agency over the summer.
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Stamkos Won't Be Traded Before Deadline
Monday, Feb. 15
As February 29th approaches, I am stating today that Steven Stamkos will not be traded before the NHL’s trade deadline. I have said repeatedly that it is our hope to reach an agreement with Steven on a new contract at some point, and with 27 games remaining in the season, our entire organization, Steven included, wants to focus on making the playoffs. I will keep the negotiating process strictly between the involved parties and have no further comment on the state of those negotiations.
Craig Custance of ESPN The Magazine doesn't understand why the team would even consider dealing Stamkos in the first place:
Is there an example of a team hoping to win a Stanley Cup trading one of its best players at deadline? Not sure I get case to trade Stamkos.— Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) February 15, 2016
Stamkos, 26, has notched 22 goals and 20 assists this season, his eighth straight campaign with at least 20 goals. While his scoring pace is down from a season ago, Stamkos remains one of the most electrifying offensive players in the NHL.
He's not only a vital player for the franchise moving forward, but he's crucial for the team this year, as Tampa Bay finds itself in a battle to clinch a playoff berth.
Re-signing Stamkos to a long-term deal would seem the most preferable option for the Lightning, as the organization would find it difficult to replace a player of his offensive skill and impact. Losing him for nothing on the market this summer would be devastating, but the Lightning clearly feel the pursuit of a Stanley Cup this season is worth that risk.
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