Yzerman hasn't 'closed any doors' on Steven Stamkos deal
Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman indicated Thursday he's gotten the clarity he needs regarding captain Steven Stamkos' contract situation.
"For the time being," he said.
Yzerman is just not ready to reveal it.
"I think between myself, (agent Don Meehan) and (Stamkos), we know where we're at," Yzerman said.
Yzerman, being purposely coy, knows other teams can start talking to Stamkos Friday night at midnight, per the five-day interview window. Several teams are expected to jump at that chance. But Yzerman said they haven't "ruled anything out" in terms of still being able to sign Stamkos by July 1, when he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
"Obviously he's still the property of the Tampa Bay Lightning," Yzerman said. "Until July 1. Anything is possible. No doors have been closed."
Now what does that mean? It's hard, and probably unfair, to read too much into Yzerman's comments. It could mean the Lightning gave Stamkos' their best offer, and Stamkos' camp said they want to at least see what else is out there first. Stamkos has said, after all, his preference is to stay. But it'd be worth his time to do his due diligence. After all, he's waited this long.
Yzerman wanted to know where they stood - sooner rather than later - because they have several other decisions it needs to make, from trades to making qualifying offers to restricted free agents (like Nikita Kucherov), and the implications of a Stamkos signing will have a ripple effect on everything.
But Yzerman, at least publicly, hasn't walked away from the potential of re-signing Stamkos, even though every day that creeps closer to July 1 makes it seemingly more difficult. Teams will likely be able to offer more than the Lightning, which Sportsnet reported earlier this season offered $8.5 million annual average.
For now, the wait continues.