July 13, 2024

Brighton Journal

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Best Team Fit for NHL Free Agent Steven Stamkos

Best Team Fit for NHL Free Agent Steven Stamkos

Steven Stamkos hits the free agent market.

The first time we considered this possibility was in 2016, before Stamkos signed an eight-year, $68 million contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning two days before July 1. But this time is different. Both Stamkos’ agent Don Meehan and Lightning GM Julian BriseBois have indicated that the star forward will “go July 1st” this summer.

How we got here: Before the season, Stamkos publicly expressed his frustration with the lack of substantive contract extension talks with the Lightning. Brisbois said he wanted to wait until the end of the season to see what Tampa Bay needed, then offer Stamkos something within financial limits to meet those needs.

The contract he offered Stamkos was not enough to re-sign him. It also hasn’t increased with the Lightning clearing cap space and free agency looming. The general manager told Meehan that “it is in the best interest of our organization to explore all options in the coming days, whether that be via trades or by entering free agency.”

On Sunday, Tampa Bay acquired the rights to negotiate with Jake Gentzel of the Carolina Hurricanes (and subsequently agreed to a contract); Guentzel may become a replacement for Stamkos in the team’s lineup.

Where could Stamkos end up as a free agent? Here’s a look at 16 possibilities, with other candidates out there.