If he wanted to, Lightning captain Steven Stamkos could squash any potential drama leading up to the Feb. 29 trade deadline.
Stamkos, 26, has a full no-move clause, meaning he holds all the cards. Even if the Lightning wanted to trade him, it would need his okay.
So if Stamkos plans to stay with the Lightning at least through the end of the season, as many expect, he can just say: I'm not going anywhere.
But he isn't saying that, at least not publicly, with comments from him and agent Don Meehan seemingly leaving the door open to anything.
"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 sucks for you guys (the media). 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."
Perhaps Stamkos is just maintaining the code of silence his representatives at Newport Sports and GM Steve Yzerman have kept during the negotiations. Stamkos may not want to paint himself into a corner by answering a hypothetical.
"There's no use in me speculating and saying things that someone can twist," he said.
But Meehan also gave an interesting response when he was asked Wednesday by Toronto's Sportsnet The Fan radio if the trade deadline was a factor. Meehan paused for several seconds. "I think that's a sensitive issue," he said.
When pressed as to why it's sensitive, Meehan said:
"I think that's just a self-evident issue. Because beyond the trading deadline, there's no possibility to move a player, to move the asset."
There's been no indication the Lightning has, or will, ask Stamkos to waive his no-move clause. 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 becomes an unrestricted free agent July 1.
What would Stamkos decide if he's asked by the Lightning to waive his no-move clause?
"I haven't even thought about that," he said. "I think the answer is, 'We'll cross that bridge at the time,' and I don't think it's that time now."