NHL Rumors: Is Tampa Bay Capturing Lightning in a Bottle With Stamkos Deal?

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistJuly 19, 2011

TAMPA, FL - APRIL 18: Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates with the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the St. Pete Times Forum on April 18, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images)
Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images

That’s it folks. The saga that was the re-signing process of Tampa Bay Lightning forward is over, and Steve Yzerman’s job is safe.

For now.

Tampa Bay Lightning beat writer for the Tampa Tribune Erik Erlendsson is reporting on Twitter that a deal has been reached between the Lightning and center Steven Stamkos.

Sporting News Hockey writer Craig Custance is reporting Stamkos’ deal has cap hit of $7.5 million annually, and that makes three stars on the team making more than half of what some other team’s whole cap hit is worth.

Yzerman is the Lightning’s general manager, and this process was the first real defining moment of his career.

So how did he do?

Something tells me that both parties in this deal believe that Stamkos won’t make it to year five of the deal, and as Stamkos’ stock rises, a trade will become more likely.

As for the salary cap hit, it is expected because they’re dealing with the top young player in the league, but the $7.5 million a year paired with the contracts of Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier that equal over $13 million, the Lightning could be in trouble.

With over $20 million tied up on three players for at least the next five seasons, a deal moving one of the players out is far from a reach.

The move that would be smartest for Tampa Bay would be moving Lecavalier and his enormous long-term contract to a team for a few cheaper pieces. At almost $8 million a season, Lecavalier is too expensive for the Lightning to go much further with as captain.

If the franchise feels as strongly as they say they do about Stamkos and his future with the organization, they should trade for the kind of youth that builds a long-time winner and let Stamkos wear the “C” when Lecavalier is moved.

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