The Tampa Bay Lightning have announced Tuesday that the team and center Steven Stamkos have agreed to terms on a new 5-year deal for the young superstar. Terms of the deal are as of yet unknown, but speculated to be somewhere in the $40 million dollar range. Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune has reported the deal will bare a cap hit of about $7.5 million dollars annually. The 5 year deal will carry Stamkos till age 26, one year before unrestricted free agency at age 27.
This comes as welcome news after Lightning fans endured a summer of worry regarding the future of their franchise center, stemming mostly from rumor mongering on internet blogs and social networking sites. After all, the face of the franchise will be staying right here in Tampa Bay, much to the chagrin of Toronto Maple Leaf and Philadelphia Flyers fans.
Bolts general manager Steve Yzerman announced the deal along with Stamkos at 3:30pm Tuesday in a press release. Yzerman told the press that "Steven is extremely important to this franchise and is part of the foundation of our hockey team."
"There is no place I’d rather be than as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning," said Stamkos
The official press release is as follows:
The Tampa Bay Lightning have agreed to terms with restricted free agent Steven Stamkos on a five-year contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.
"Steven is extremely important to this franchise and is part of the foundation of our hockey team," Yzerman said. "We are very pleased to have him signed and look forward to seeing him in a Lightning uniform for years to come."
"I am excited we were able to reach an agreement today," Stamkos said. "This was obviously very important to me and I appreciate Mr. Vinik and Steve Yzerman for all their work in the transformation of the franchise as we move forward. There is no place I’d rather be than as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning."
Stamkos, 6-foot-1, 188 pounds, has played in all 164 games during the previous two seasons, leading the NHL with 96 goals. He has also recorded 186 points and 41 power play goals while averaging more than 20 minutes of ice time per game during that span. Last season he registered 45 goals and 91 points with 17 power-play goals. Stamkos ranked second in the league for goals, power-play goals, third for road goals with 24, fifth for home goals with 21 and was fifth for points. He was the fastest player in Lightning history to reach 40 goals in a season, doing so in just 54 games. Stamkos also set a franchise mark for game-winning goals in a season with eight. The Lightning were 26-6-3 last season when he scored a goal and were 8-0-0 when he score more than one. Stamkos was honored by the league at the conclusion of the season, being named to the 2011 NHL Second All-Star Team.
A native of Markham, Ontario, Stamkos made his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut in 2011, playing in all 18 games as the Lightning fell one game short of the Stanley Cup Final. He recorded six goals and 13 points in those games while averaging 19:43 in ice time. Stamkos notched three three-point games during the postseason, twice during the Eastern Conference Finals against Boston (Game 2 and Game 6, 1g-2a) and another in Game 5 of the quarterfinals against Pittsburgh (2g-1a). He was tied for third on the team during the playoffs for goals and shots on goal with 46.
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Stamkos has played in 243 career games with Tampa Bay, averaging nearly a point per game with 232 career points. He has also registered 119 career goals, 50 power-play goals and 14 game-winning goals. Stamkos won a share of the 2010 Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy as the NHL’s leading goal-scorer with 51, making him the third-youngest player in NHL history to score 50 goals or more in a season. Stamkos is also the sixth player in NHL history to score 100 career goals before the age of 21.