from Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune,
... now one has to wonder how far this team, which made the Stanley Cup Final last season, can go without the team’s top goal scorer and captain after already losing top defenseman Anton Stralman to a fractured leg last week.
And with Stamkos scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, the real possibility that Stamkos has played his final game with the Lightning became a reality. Any contract talks have not proven to gain any traction to this point and he will be free to sign with any team on July 1 should the two sides not come together on an extension before then.
Until then, Tampa Bay will learn exactly what life could look like with Stamkos in the lineup as they look to clinch a playoff spot on a four-game road trip to end the season, which starts Monday at the New York Islanders. Tampa Bay would have to advance at least past the first round for Stamkos to have any chance to suit up in a Lightning uniform again this season.
“Obviously this situation is extremely disappointing because I wanted to help my team clinch a playoff spot and prepare for the start of the postseason,’’ Stamkos said in a statement released by the team. “During my recover I will do all I can to help my teammates and I hope to rejoin them soon in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.’’
The Hockey Central panel breaks down how Steven Stamkos’ absence will affects the Tampa Bay Lightning, but first stressed how seriously scary a diagnosis of a blood clot in the arm is for anyone, let alone an athlete.