Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Longevity, lack of state income tax remain Lightning's aces with Steven Stamkos

TAMPA — With captain Steven Stamkos just three days from being the most coveted unrestricted free agent in years, there will be no shortage of suitors likely offering more annually than the Lightning.

Tampa Bay is still in the mix, though it would seem to have a better chance if it can sign Stamkos, 26, before Friday's opening of free agency, when it loses a key economic advantage.

Aside from being seemingly the best on-ice fit, the Lightning, which is believed to have offered Stamkos an extension worth $8.5 million annually, holds a couple x-factors over other suitors — there's no state income tax in Florida and the Lightning is the only team that can offer him an eight-year contract (others only seven).

As a Tampa Bay Times analysis in January showed, Stamkos could net nearly the same annually after taxes in Tampa Bay at $8.5 million as $10 million in New York (Rangers, Islanders), presuming he'd be a New York City resident; Stamkos would make more over the length of the deal in Tampa because of the extra year. Stamkos would net $500,000 less annually than a $10 million deal with Detroit, another strong suitor, but, again, more over the length of the deal.

And Stamkos' hometown Maple Leafs, due to a 53.53 percent combined federal/provincial tax rate, would have to offer him $12.37 million annually over seven years to net the same as he'd make over eight years at $8.5 million in Tampa, according to national sports tax guru Robert Raiola, the director of the Sports and Entertainment group at PKF O'Connor Davis, who has professional sports clients throughout the country.

Quebec (53.31 percent), where Montreal plays, has almost the same combined tax rate as Toronto; British Columbia (where the Canucks play) is 47.7 percent. Of course, Toronto likely offers more endorsement opportunities.

The key, however, is that eighth year, and the Lightning loses that advantage on July 1, when all teams — including Tampa Bay — can only offer seven years.

Under a seven-year deal in Tampa Bay, Stamkos would net $32 million, less than other suitors, including $4 million less than in Detroit and Boston.

Money isn't the only factor in Stamkos' decision, the All-Star center saying he wants to stay in Tampa Bay and have a chance to win his first Stanley Cup. But other teams are expected to make big splashes to woo him. One is Buffalo, where general manager Tim Murray talked openly about being able to win paying one player an average of $10 million to $12 million a season.

What if the Sabres offer Stamkos $12 million over seven years? The Lightning, over an eight-year deal, would have to offer $9.7 million annually to net the same after taxes. That would be a sizable bump from the reported offer from Tampa Bay, which is cap crunched and likely unable to go much higher. The highest-paid players in the NHL are Blackhawks' Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews ($10.5 million annual average).

Teams in states with no state income tax make sure to sell that.

"In my mind it's a factor you always look at," said agent Steven Bartlett, who represents Lightning wing Ryan Callahan. "I know some of the big stars get hung up on the number because it's almost an egotistical thing — and I'm not saying it's this way with Stamkos. I'm just saying a guy feels like, 'He gets 10 (million), I need 10 (million). I need nine just to validate.' But if you're smart you realize, 'I have to run the calculation.' It isn't always just the number that's thrown out there that's the real number.

"And, believe me, the teams that have the advantage are more than willing to point that out to you, too."

Just getting to this five-day interview window likely made it more challenging for the Lightning to sign Stamkos, now that there's more bidders. And in three days, it'd lose one of its biggest financial recruiting tools.

It just hopes it won't lose the face of its franchise.

Contact Joe Smith at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.

Comments
Lightning journal: Vinik pushing for outdoor game

Lightning journal: Vinik pushing for outdoor game

As he sat back in his chair facing the stands in the middle of the two benches, Lightning owner Jeff Vinik could not help but remember the first time he sat there.A young Steven Stamkos sat next to him as he spoke in front of a crowd of about 30 peop...
Published: 09/24/18
Lightning journal: Roster trimmed to 28

Lightning journal: Roster trimmed to 28

TAMPA – After Sunday morning, the Lightning sat five cuts away from having a 23-man roster to start the regular season.It cut its training camp roster by 27, leaving 28 players on the roster with the start of the regular season less than two we...
Published: 09/23/18
Lightning forward prospect Boris Katchouk putting together strong preseason

Lightning forward prospect Boris Katchouk putting together strong preseason

TAMPA — As the end of training camp looms, there's no clear-cut answer as to how the Lightning will fill the one, maybe two open forward spots in its lineup.It could go with Adam Erne. Spending much of his time in AHL Syracuse the past three se...
Published: 09/22/18
Lightning journal: ‘No-risk’ forward pickup; another preseason win; Fan Fest on Sunday

Lightning journal: ‘No-risk’ forward pickup; another preseason win; Fan Fest on Sunday

TAMPA — It didn't take long for Lightning GM Julien BriseBois to decide he wanted to put a waiver claim in Friday.Not when he saw that F Danick Martel was available."He's a player we have had on our radar for a while, going back to actually his...
Published: 09/22/18
Lightning journal: Adam Erne looks to stick in Tampa

Lightning journal: Adam Erne looks to stick in Tampa

Forward Adam Erne flicks the puck into the net, but he has no time to celebrate.He flips around. Crunch, crunch, crunch. Snow flies off his skates. Erne then squares his body as he arrives in the defensive zone, steps away from the net.Within a secon...
Published: 09/21/18
Lightning falls to Hurricanes again in preseason

Lightning falls to Hurricanes again in preseason

The Lightning did not fare much better in its second preseason crack at the Hurricanes.In fact, it did worse.It lost 6-1 Wednesday in Raleigh, N.C.Carolina put a much more veteran team on the ice than it did Tuesday in winning Tampa Bay's preseason o...
Published: 09/19/18
Second-round pick Gabriel Fortier among Lightning’s early cuts

Second-round pick Gabriel Fortier among Lightning’s early cuts

One round of cuts down, several more to go.The Lightning cut seven players on Wednesday, five of whom were training camp invitees, the team announced. All seven players were assigned to juniors.Gabriel Fortier was the most notable cut. The Lightning'...
Published: 09/19/18
Lightning journal: Can Mathieu Joseph sneak his way onto the opening-day roster?

Lightning journal: Can Mathieu Joseph sneak his way onto the opening-day roster?

It remains to be seen if F Mathieu Joseph will make the Lightning's roster. If he doesn't, it certainly won't be because of a lack of opportunities.Joseph saw time on the Lightning power play and penalty kill on Tuesday at Amalie Arena when Tampa Bay...
Published: 09/19/18
Hockey News poll: Lightning favored to win Stanley Cup, other awards

Hockey News poll: Lightning favored to win Stanley Cup, other awards

Falling just short of winning a championship the past few seasons has done nothing to erode fans' confidence in the Lightning.Not just locally, but also nationally and across Canada.The Lightning is the runaway favorite to win the Stanley C...
Published: 09/19/18
Lightning journal: Alex Killorn’s just puttin’ on the Fitz

Lightning journal: Alex Killorn’s just puttin’ on the Fitz

TAMPA — How big is FitzMagic? It has hit the Lightning, too.Proving that Harvard guys stick together, Lightning forward Alex Killorn showed support for fellow Harvard grad Ryan Fitzpatrick by, sort of, dressing up the way Fitzpatrick did after ...
Published: 09/19/18