What star forward Steven Stamkos might have earned on the free-agent market is no longer an issue, as the Tampa Bay captain and the team confirmed Wednesday that he agreed to an eight-year contract extension with the Lightning.
"We are very appreciative of the effort and commitment that Steven and his representatives have exhibited in getting a deal done," Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said. "We are excited to have him as a cornerstone part of the team for the next eight years as we continue in the franchise's ultimate pursuit of winning another Stanley Cup."
Multiple media outlets reported that the contract will pay Stamkos $8.5 million a year and includes a full no-movement clause for all eight seasons.
"I am excited to move forward with the Lightning today for the next eight years," said Stamkos. "It's not often that a player gets the chance to spend his career in one organization and I am hopeful that this agreement sets me on that path with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Most importantly, I look forward to working with my teammates, coaches and our management in our goal of winning a Stanley Cup."
The 26-year-old Stamkos, drafted first overall in 2008, is an eight-year NHL veteran who had 36 goals and 28 assists in 77 regular-season games this past season. Stamkos scored 312 goals since beginning his career in 2008-09, second only to Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin (362) over that span. He also has 15 goals and 35 points in 49 career Stanley Cup Playoff games.
Stamkos ranks third on the franchise's all-time scoring list for goals and points (562), and second all-time for power-play goals (108), trailing only Vincent Lecavalier (112). Stamkos has eight career hat tricks, tied for first with Martin St. Louis in team history.
If Stamkos had hit the free-agent market Friday, the Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, Buffalo Sabres, Boston Bruins, Vancouver Canucks and Montreal Canadiens, among others, reportedly were interested.