Steven Stamkos is the new 5-year, 37 million dollar man in Tampa Bay and the Lightning and their fans could not be happier to have their franchise player locked up until 2017. Bolts fanatics had to spend their summer hearing constant rumors of Stamkos leaving either via offer sheet or trade and while this contract is a welcome respite from the Internet blog rumor mongering, I'm afraid that I don't think it will do much to put trade speculation to rest.
Lightning fans are fairly used to hearing about their franchise player departing. Vincent Lecavalier has been the center of constant rumors and dreaming, usually based around Montreal, for the majority of his career. Not a season goes by without a French Canadian website or newspaper announcing the Bolts have been shopping the captain for a return home to Canada but I remind you that despite all that, Vinny still wears sweater adorned with a C and a Lightning Bolt.
Stamkos' new five year contract will only make matters worse. The new face of the franchise is just 21, meaning he will be in his prime, just 26, when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2016. If he continues his current development he will become possibly the most sought after UFA in the history of the NHL, and command one the largest contracts ever, something the Lightning are not likely to be willing to commit too.
If the Bolts are unable to extend the contract before the final two years of the deal, it will leave Steve Yzerman in a very tough position. There is no way that he would let a player of Stamkos' caliber walk in free agency and get nothing in return, setting up an almost must trade scenario if there is no extension by 2015. Stamkos' contract does include a no-move clause but not until the 5th year of the deal because he is too young to qualify for such a mechanism before then.
While today is a great day for Tampa Bay fans, this deal is not without a lot of question marks and leaves a lot of room for trade speculation to continue, something Lightning fans are more than used to and something I'm very sure Toronto Maple Leaf fans are very aware of.