Reports are surfacing Wednesday that the Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman has resumed talks with unsigned star center Steven Stamkos' agents regarding the 21-year old superstars next contract. While the talks starting back up are promoting optimism its still impossible to say how close the two sides are on a deal as Yzerman, Stamkos, and his agents Don Meehan and Mark Guy have all been relatively quiet on the subject.
"I'm optimistic we'll come to an agreement," Yzerman told Damian Christodero of the St. Petersburg Times via text message. "Both sides have expressed an interest in getting something done. I'm open to listening to other ideas, and I look forward to the chance to speak to them about where we're at at this stage."
There has been speculation in the blog and twittosphere that a deal is close and may be somewhere in the 6.5-7.5 million dollar range anually, but Yzerman was quoted in the Times as saying those reports are "not accurate."
The concern for the Lightning is that if a deal is not in place by Friday, July 1st, Stamkos will become a restricted free agent, able to listen to offer sheets from other teams around the league. Any team making an offer must have the available cap room for the deal, as well as draft picks to compensate the Lightning were Stamkos to accept the offer. The Lightning have the final negotiating rights with Stamkos and have the option to match any offer sheet presented and the team has been putting out signals that they are prepared to do just that. Teams that have been rumored to be preparing offer sheets include the Philadelphia Flyers and Toronto Maple Leafs, but as I stated yesterday I don't believe it will ever come to that and the Stamkos deal will eventually get done.
Meanwhile, Bolts GM Steve Yzerman has been busy inking other deals, resigning offensive-minded defeseman Marc-Andre Bergeron too a two year, 2-million dollar contract and also reportedly bringing back forward Adam Hall on a one year deal in the 1 million dollar range.