Kukla's Korner Hockey

Kukla's Korner Hockey

Friedman on Stamkos

09/07/2015 at 9:23pm EDT

From Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman:

Tampa’s captain is an unrestricted free agent next July 1, barring a contract extension. Last week, while discussing the blood clot that will keep Andrei Vasilevskiy out of the lineup for up to three months, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman told The Tampa Tribune’s Erik Erlendsson there was nothing to comment on at this time.

The obvious hurdle is the contract negotiation, with Stamkos expected to be in the $10.5M AAV range occupied by Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. It’s difficult to tell where things stand right now because none of the principals are talking, including Yzerman, agent Don Meehan or Stamkos himself. But according to a couple of sources, there are other things at play.

The first is role.

Stamkos prefers to play centre, which creates a top-six logjam with Valtteri Filppula and triplet Tyler Johnson. It sounds like the Lightning would prefer Stamkos to play on the wing to ease that issue. From what I’ve been told, the discussions were professional, but both organization and player remain searching for common ground.

The second is how the Lightning see the future. By the end of the 2016-17 season, they must determine long-term plans for Ben Bishop, Victor Hedman, Johnson, Alex Killorn, Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat and Stamkos.

Yzerman said in June signing Stamkos was his No. 1 priority this summer. Your third-grade science teacher will remind you that, technically, he’s got two more weeks. Even if it doesn’t happen by then, there’s no reason to believe Yzerman’s desires have changed.

Continued, trade rumor included...

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