Lightning's Stamkos: Answers will come at the trade deadline
If he wanted to, captain Steven Stamkos could sqaush any potential drama leading up until the Feb. 29 trade deadline.
Stamkos has a full no-move clause, meaning he holds all the cards. Even if the Lightning wanted to trade him, the team would need his permission.
So if Stamkos plans to stay with the Lightning at least through the end of the season, like many people expect, he can just say it: I'm not going anywhere.
But Stamkos isn't saying that, at least publicly, indicating the answer will come in 18 days.
"The trade deadline is coming up in a couple weeks, I'm sure everyone will have some answers in a couple weeks when that comes," Stamkos said Thursday. "We've kept everything to ourselves and I know it (stinks) for you guys (media), I totally understand. But I think you can appreciate the way we've conducted doing business and whatever happens in the next couple weeks, there's obviously going to be some answers."
There's been no indication the Lightning has even asked Stamkos to waive his no-move clause. It would appear Stamkos is likely to stay in Tampa Bay at least through the end of the season, considering his statements that he wants to stay and win with the Lightning. Plus, it could be hard to imagine Tampa Bay's playoff chances getting better by dealing Stamkos, no matter the return for a player who could be an unrestricted free agent July 1.
What would Stamkos do if he's asked by the Lightning to waive his no move clause?
"I haven't even thought about that," Stamkos said. "I think the answer is, 'We'll cross that bridge at the time, and I don't think it's that time now. So I continue to come to the rink everyday as the leader that I am and the teammate that everyone in this room knows that I am, and give my best effort. I've said that since day one of training camp and that hasn't changed."
There have been questions whether Stamkos has been distracted by his uncertain future, and he maintains he's not. Stamkos is tied for the team-lead with 21 goals, but has one in his last 10 games heading into Friday's matchup with the Predators.
Stamkos said he's relied on friends, family and his agents in getting through this process, but makes a point to minimize those discussions in the dressing room. While Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf has said he tried to stay out of the specfiics in negotiations until they got serious, Stamkos seems like he's more involved.
After all, it's a huge decision, both for Stamkos and the future of the Lightning.
“I don’t want to get into detail of who’s saying what and who’s in those meetings," Stamkos said. "I’m definitely aware of the situation. I’m a guy that likes to be … it’s your career. It’s your life. You’ve got to know exactly what’s going on. You’ve got to do your due diligence. It’s going to be a process. That’s how I approach anything in life, whether it’s a decision to buy a house or buy a car. You want to make sure you’re well informed before you make a decision. Obviously, this is a little bigger decision than those things, but just as an example, you want to make sure that everyone’s interests are the best and you go from there.”
The Lightning have reportedly offered Stamkos an extension with an $8.5 million annual average. Stamkos knows stories may come out speculating what's going on with negotiations, much like how the Maple Leafs recent nine-player trade has been tied to its potential pursuit of the Markham, Ontario native in free agency.
Stamkos said he lets any story roll off his back, sticking with the media blackout.
"That's been the part that I think is good for both sides, that we've kept it internal," Stamkos said. "Obviously a lot of people are guessing and writing stories and stuff like that. Everyone is entitield to their own opinion. I think for me, it's been something I didn't know what to expect going into this year, I didn't know how long it was going to play out. It's my first time going through something of this magnitude in my career. Like I said before, when you have a decision like this, it takes time. You make sure at the end of the day you make the right decision."