The summer saga that was Steven Stamkos’ contract status finally ended Tuesday when the Tampa Bay Lightning re-signed him to a five-year, $37.5 million contract, putting to rest weeks of baseless trade rumors that had the center linked to the Philadelphia Flyers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Los Angeles Kings.
Stamkos will earn $8 million in his first four seasons and $5.5 million in the fifth and final one, for an average cap hit of $7.5 million. The number makes him the second highest paid player on the Lightning, behind team captain Vincent Lecavalier’s average cap hit of just more than $7.7 million per season.
This deal will carry him to age 26, when he’ll be eligible for unrestricted free agency. The deal also comes with a “no-movement” clause in the final year of the deal.
The Lightning now have more than $25 million invested in four forwards (Stamkos, Lecavalier, Martin St-Louis and Ryan Malone) and only right wing Teddy Purcell left to re-sign. Purcell filed for salary arbitration and his hearing is set for July 20 in Toronto.
Turns out all those trade and offer sheet rumors, including those claiming Stamkos wanted out of Tampa Bay, had no basis in reality. The framework of this contract was agreed upon weeks ago and Stamkos said his priority was to remain with the Lightning.
NO DOUBT DOUGHTY’S NEXT
The focus now turns to restricted free agent defenseman Drew Doughty, who remains unsigned.
Shortly following the announcement of the Stamkos signing, Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times reported via Twitter there were no new developments on Doughty’s negotiations. The blueliner is represented by Newport Sports, the same agency that represents Stamkos.
It’s rumored Kings management is awaiting the outcome of the Nashville Predators’ negotiations with their team captain, Shea Weber, who is slated for salary arbitration on August 2. Once Weber gets his new contract, the Kings could use it as a comparable in their negotiations with Doughty.
In the meantime, don’t be surprised if those stoking the Stamkos trade rumors start dreaming up scenarios involving Doughty.
CAPS STANDING PAT
Folks expecting the Washington Capitals to make a trade later this summer, possibly involving left winger Alexander Semin, to get under the salary cap for the upcoming season could be disappointed.
Capitals GM George McPhee dismissed the latest round of Semin speculation in a recent interview with E.J. Hradek of NHL.com, praising the winger’s goal-scoring ability. McPhee stated he’s made his moves and doesn’t anticipate making any further deals this summer.
McPhee once again hinted defenseman Tom Poti, limited to only 21 games last season with a nagging groin injury, will not be able to play next season. If so, Poti will be placed on long-term injury reserve, which will allow the Capitals to become cap compliant.
YASHIN BACK IN NHL?
Rumor has it another former NHL player might follow Jaromir Jagr’s example and attempt a return.
Dmitry Chesnokov of Yahoo! Sports reported agent Mark Gandler, who represents former Islanders center Alexei Yashin, recently told a Russian paper his client had received an offer from an NHL team, though he declined to say which one.
Chesnokov pointed out Gandler was saying the same thing roughly around the same time last year, though back then he claimed the Islanders were “constantly showing interest” in Yashin, as he apparently enjoyed a great relationship with Isles owner Charles Wang.
Yashin was bought out of his contract by the Islanders in 2007 and spent the past four seasons playing in Russia’s Kontinental League. He is currently an unrestricted free agent.
Chesnokov claimed Yashin, who remains well thought of in the KHL, probably won’t have difficulty signing with another KHL club and suggested Gandler was likely using his claim of interest from an NHL team as a negotiating ploy.
However, the same thing was said about Jagr, who was courted by Detroit and Pittsburgh before signing with the Philadelphia Flyers, when word first popped up this spring of his interest in returning to the NHL.
That said, Yashin lacks the resume and level of respect Jagr still enjoyed in the NHL. The former Islander is also recovering from knee surgery, which could further dampen potential interest.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey News.