Monday, February 19, 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
Trade rumors can weigh on NHL players as deadline approaches

Trade rumors can weigh on NHL players as deadline approaches

WASHINGTON — Tyler Johnson was as good as gone.Or so it seemed.The scuttlebutt around last year's trade deadline was that the Lightning center could be the piece headed elsewhere to land a top-four defenseman. Maybe Nashville? St. Louis?Then th...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Better ‘D’ starts at home with Lightning

Better ‘D’ starts at home with Lightning

TAMPA – The Lightning still might land that top tier defenseman it certainly needs by the Feb. 26 trade deadline. But if that player was wearing a Tampa Bay sweater Saturday, would the outcome against the Devils have been any different?The Ligh...
Published: 02/19/18
Rumor mill: What Lightning might do at trade deadline

Rumor mill: What Lightning might do at trade deadline

Reports and rumors involving the Lightning leading up to the NHL trade deadline on Feb. 26:Feb. 17A smaller move could pay big dividendsIf you look at the history of recent Stanley Cup champions, their pivotal moves were subtle, not splashy, the Time...
Published: 02/19/18
Devils’ Wood gets 2 games for boarding Namestnikov

Devils’ Wood gets 2 games for boarding Namestnikov

Devils forward Miles Wood was suspended two games without pay for his boarding penalty Saturday night against Lightning forward Vladislav Namestnikov during the second period of the Devils 4-3 victory.The hit knocked Namestnikov into the boards ...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Flashy trades not always the smartest moves

Flashy trades not always the smartest moves

TAMPA — When it comes to the trade deadline, everyone wants the big names. They dream of blockbusters.Lightning fans would love Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson or Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh. Maybe even Rangers wing Rick Nash.But if you ...
Published: 02/17/18
Updated: 02/18/18
Dotchin working on ‘inconsistencies’

Dotchin working on ‘inconsistencies’

TAMPA — Lightning D Jake Dotchin was scratched Saturday against the Devils, making it the fifth time in six games that he did not play."Obviously the playing time is down a bit," Dotchin said after the morning skate. "I just got to keep working...
Published: 02/17/18
Updated: 02/18/18
Winter Olympics: Americans had brawn. Russians had more goals.

Winter Olympics: Americans had brawn. Russians had more goals.

GANGNEUNG, South Korea — It was a game for Cold War nostalgia and present-day geopolitical angst, for feisty, post-whistle scraps in the corners and for cheap jokes on Twitter. It was a game drenched in history at the start and simmering with ill fee...
Published: 02/17/18
Updated: 02/18/18
Emphasis on ‘D’ continues as Lightning face Devils

Emphasis on ‘D’ continues as Lightning face Devils

The emphasis was on defense during Friday's practice and today's morning skate as the Lightning look to reduce not only the number of shots on goal allowed but also scoring chances. It allowed 39 in Thursday's win against the Red Wings and 33 in Thu...
Published: 02/17/18
Lightning falls to Devils

Lightning falls to Devils

TAMPA — The Lightning took enough shots to win Saturday’s game against the Devils. It scored enough goals to win, too. Problem was, the Lightning made enough mistakes to lose."There were a lot of positives," captain Steven Stamkos said, "but they sco...
Published: 02/17/18
Updated: 02/18/18
Winter Olympics: Youth leads U.S. men’s hockey team against Russia on Saturday

Winter Olympics: Youth leads U.S. men’s hockey team against Russia on Saturday

GANGNEUNG, South Korea — Ilya Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk were dominating the NHL before Ryan Donato, Troy Terry and Jordan Greenway started playing organized hockey. "I think I dreamed about playing against those guys one day," Donato, 21, said. Dre...
Published: 02/16/18
Updated: 02/17/18