Steven Stamkos signed a five-year deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning worth $37.5 million on Tuesday, disproving rumors of his departure from the team, even though he never actually received any other offers.
Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announced the signing, saying that there was never a doubt that Stamkos would stay with the team.
“I actually got a couple of texts from friends with a picture of my face photoshopped on Phil Kessel’s body,” Stamkos said Tuesday night on a conference call announcing his new contract. “Some people thought it was a legit photo. When they sent it to me I cracked up. I couldn’t hold my laugh in that people were circulating that photo and thought it was real. That was comical.”
Nevertheless, securing Stamkos is a huge deal, as he has scored an NHL-leading 96 goals in his first two seasons with the Lightning, racking up 186 points in the process. He also led the team to the Eastern Conference Finals last season, with six goals and seven assists in the playoffs for a total of 13 points.
His contract gives him a salary cap hit of $7.5 million a year, with $32 million coming over the first four years, and $5.5 million in the final year of the deal. Even amidst all the rumors, Stamkos was always confident that a deal would happen.
“With our long playoff run, it delayed everything and that’s where all those rumors and stuff started swirling, especially on July 1,” Stamkos said. “It was never a worry for me. It was just finding something I was comfortable with and the team. However long it took, both sides knew it was going to get done eventually. I’m excited we got it done so I don’t have to be worried about those rumors anymore.”