Steven Stamkos pondering future with Tampa Bay Lightning amidst contract talks
Will Stamkos re-sign with the Lightning? Salary cap woes could force the legend to test free agency.

Steven Stamkos, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s heart and soul, is facing a pivotal decision as his contract winds down. His comments last September about the stalled extension talks sparked intense speculation about his future with the franchise.

Stamkos’ loyalty to Tampa is undeniable, but the Lightning’s tight salary cap situation could be the deciding factor. With over $75 million tied up in next season’s payroll and only $11 million in cap space, the Lightning captain may need to accept a significant hometown discount to stay.

Stamkos’ Future Uncertain: Can the Lightning Afford Their Captain?

Currently earning $8.5 million AAV, Stamkos took a team-friendly deal in 2016. But it’s unlikely he’d be willing to take much less than $7 million annually, putting the Lightning in a tough spot. Will he prioritize remaining in Tampa at the cost of higher earnings elsewhere and a chance to chase another Cup on a Cup-contending roster?

The Lightning’s cap crunch means juggling contract negotiations for multiple key players on top of Stamkos’ potential deal. This offseason will be a true test of general manager Julien BriseBois’s ability to maneuver under pressure. Could we see beloved Lightning players become trade pieces in an effort to retain their legendary captain?

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