Yzerman: Stamkos will not be traded by deadline
Captain Steven Stamkos isn't going anywhere.
At least, not before the Feb. 29 trade deadline.
Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman made that clear in a strong statement released Monday, saying that Stamkos will not be traded before the deadline.
"I have said repeatedly that it is our hope to reach an agreement with Steven on a new contract at some point," Yzerman said. "And with 27 games remaining in the season, our entire organization, Steven included, wants to focus on making the playoffs. I will keep the negotiating process strictly between the involved parties and have no further comment on the state of those negotiations."
Stamkos is in the final year of his contract, due to be an unrestricted free agent. While Stamkos has a no-move clause, his uncertain status could have been a source of speculation leading up to the Feb. 29 deadline. When asked last if he'd waive his no-move clause, Stamkos appeared to leave the door open.
"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 that time is now."
By releasing this statement, Yzerman shut that door, allowing Stamkos and the Lightning to focus on its current fight to make the playoffs, entering today tied for the last two wild card spots in the Eastern Conference and one point ahead of ninth-place Pittsburgh. Stamkos ranks second on the team with 22 goals.
It was hard to envision a scenario where the Lightning would have traded Stamkos. Tampa Bay, which came two wins away from the Stanley Cup last season, is hoping to make another run, and dealing Stamkos would not boost its chances.
While it is a risk to not try to trade Stamkos, which means the Lightning could lose its franchise player for nothing on July 1, Yzerman's statement indicated hope he could still secure an extension. And Stanley Cup windows are so small in this league, Tampa Bay is going for it.