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Report: Steven Stamkos Close To Signing Long-Term Deal With Lightning

This news comes from Damian Cristodero at the St. Petersburg Times:

Here is why Lightning center Steve Stamkos said he is not worried about his contract situation:

"I think it's close," he said of a new deal. "I don't think it's far off. As close as we are, it's not something I'm really worried about."

...

Speculation is the deal will be worth about $7 million a season.

"I'm thinking things are going to get done," said Stamkos, who at tonight's NHL awards show at the Palms Hotel is up for the Ted Lindsay Award as the league's most outstanding player.

If the Lightning don't sign Steven Stamkos by July 1st, he can become a free agent and any team can sign him to a contract. While him signing with another team would net the Lightning four first-round draft picks, it would still be a large blow to the organization to lose one of the top young players in the game.

Stamkos is only 21-years-old, but he's already become one of the top centers in the NHL. He scored 51 goals during the 2009-2010 season, tied for the league lead, and he followed that up by scoring 45 goals this past season. He's a fan favorite and looks to have a long, productive career ahead of him, so the Lightning seem very motivated to sign him to a long-term extension.

We'll be updating this stream with the latest news over the next week, so follow SB Nation Tampa Bay on Facebook or Twitter to keep abreast of the situation. 

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