Steven Stamkos landed his first shot of training camp on Wednesday, squaring up his honest assessment about the Tampa Bay Lightning going silent on his request for a contract extension.
“To be honest, I’ve been disappointed in the lack of talking,” he said. “It was something that I expressed at the end of last year that I wanted to get something done before training camp started. There haven’t been any discussions.”
Stamkos, 33, is eligible for free agency at the end of the 2023-24 season. The 16th-year pro said he made the franchise fully aware of his position before July 1, the first date he was allowed to sign to a new deal.
“I’m ready whenever,” he said. “I guess it was something I didn’t see coming, but it is what it is.”
The Lightning carry multiple large contracts and last month signed forward Brandon Hagel to an eight-year extension that hits the books in 2024.
As for any doubt about where he stands in the Tampa Bay pecking order, Stamkos directed questions to general manager Julien BriseBois.
“Like I said, I stated at the end of last year that I would love to extend and play here and finish out my career here, but that’s out of my hands. I can’t write a contract for myself,” he said.
BriseBois met with media later Wednesday and said the sides “share the common goal of bringing the Cup back to Tampa.” BriseBois acknowledged Stamkos said publicly and privately he wants to finish his career in Tampa and agreed it would be in “everyone’s best interest.”
But he also said he needs to see how the season plays out.
“I need to see how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together. I need to see who steps up and is able to handle a bigger role. I need to see how the team performs,” BriseBois said.
Stamkos scored 34 goals with 50 assists last season. He has played for the Lightning since 2008, when Tampa Bay selected him No. 1 overall. The two-time Stanley Cup winner has scored 1,056 points (515 goals) in 1,003 regular-season games.
The GM said he can’t worry at the moment about Stamkos pricing himself out of a possible return next season.
“Obviously, at the end, the contracts are going to have to work for both sides. Steven is going to have a say here,” he said. “We’ll address that in due time. These things, they take care of themselves, and when the time comes, we’ll address them.”
–Field Level Media