TAMPA — When it comes to the contract saga of Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, things have remained pretty quiet.
Both sides have refrained from speaking publicly on the subject, with GM Steve Yzerman always saying, "when there's announcement to make, we'll announce it."
But Stamkos' agent, Don Meehan from Newport Sports, shed some light on the negotiations Monday night in an interview with Toronto's TSN 1050. Meehan said while there were "some issues" he and Stamkos dealt with at the end of the year, they are just practicing "due diligence to the nth degree."
"All that we're really doing …is taking a little bit more time," Meehan said. "But we're engaged with Steve Yzerman. And as I say, we have a great relationship with him. And when you get to a point in a career where you have professional decisions to make like this — as you know, the Collective Bargaining Agreement doesn't really afford you this kind of opportunity that often. And the Collective Bargaining Agreement is a give and take process, and it's something that you — for this kind of a decision and this kind of player, I really think that you have to practice due diligence to the nth degree."
Stamkos could warrant a deal similar to the eight-year, $84 million contracts Blackhawks stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews signed in 2014. Meehan said while it's not the norm for a star player to be unsigned in his contract year, he points out it's not unprecedented. One of Meehan's clients, the Ducks' Corey Perry, signed a eight-year, $69 million deal in March 2013.
HIGH HONORS: Cooper will be named an assistant on the Team North America coaching staff for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, Sportsnet reported. It's not a surprise, as Cooper is a perfect fit for the team made of under-24 stars from the United States and Canada. The tournament begins Sept. 17 in Toronto.
VASY IN: G Andrei Vasilevskiy started his third game since Nov. 1, as he and Ben Bishop continue to alternate games.
While Vasilevskiy entered with sparkling success against the Sabres — two goals in three wins before Tuesday's 4-1 loss to Buffalo — Cooper said this was more to keep both goalies fresh.
"It's all schedule based and we believe both goalies can win," Cooper said. "It doesn't matter who we put in."
Vasilevskiy, who missed the first month of the season after vascular surgery, looked sharp in winning his first two starts. Bishop, who started 12 of the first 14 games, has been good too, with a 2.23 goals against average. But he has lost his past five starts despite allowing just eight goals, the Lightning scoring three.
"Bish is our guy, we know that," Cooper said. " He's done a (heck) of a job for us."
ON CALL: RW Mike Blunden was just leaving Syracuse on Monday, heading home to Ottawa to get some winter clothes, when he got a phone call from assistant GM Julien BriseBois he was coming to the NHL. With LW Ondrej Palat out 3-5 weeks, and C Cedric Paquette's status questionable, Blunden was brought up as insurance, but didn't play. D Nikita Nesterov was also scratched.
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