With a press release issued Monday, Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman says that he will not trade Steven Stamkos. That puts to bed rumors that the Bolts might trade their star forward if an agreement on a contract extension couldn’t be reached before the February 29 trade deadline.
As the deadline approaches there’s been speculation about what Tampa will do if Stamkos won’t put ink to paper. As one of the league’s top scorers, it’d be difficult to let him walk into the sunset for nothing.
On the other hand, the Lightning are capable of making a serious run into the postseason again this season and if they were where they are in the standings now and traded for one of the league’s top scorers, they’d probably get a hearty pat on the back for making a serious go of it.
Here’s the full statement from Yzerman:
As February 29th approaches, I am stating today that Steven Stamkos will not be traded before the NHL’s trade deadline. I have said repeatedly that it is our hope to reach an agreement with Steven on a new contract at some point, and with 27 games remaining in the season, our entire organization, Steven included, wants to focus on making the playoffs. I will keep the negotiating process strictly between the involved parties and have no further comment on the state of those negotiations.
Despite wild speculation on every statement from Stamkos, the two parties have been tight-lipped about the negotiations. If he makes it to free agency, he will easily be the biggest name on the board July 1.