TAMPA — Lightning owner Jeff Vinik said at September's FanFest he was "confident" the Lightning would sign captain Steven Stamkos to a long-term deal.
And though Stamkos doesn't yet have an extension, and is just months from unrestricted free agency, Vinik said Monday he feels just as strongly something will get done.
"Absolutely," Vinik said. "I'm sure that this process will work itself out in a good manner."
Vinik isn't an active participant in negotiations, letting GM Steve Yzerman run all hockey operations. Stamkos, who could warrant $10 million to $11 million annually over eight years, has said he hopes to stay, and thinks a deal can be worked out.
Vinik insists he's not worried.
"Steven Stamkos is a great player, great person," Vinik said. "But as you know, one of the reasons we've been successful with our hockey program is I let Steve Yzerman run it. I let him choose the players, I let him do the contracts. So I think as long as I'm owner here, Steve Yzerman will be making those decisions."
Though the defending Eastern Conference champions entered Monday out of playoff position, Vinik believes in his team.
"No season goes the same," he said. "There have been ups and downs along the way. Last year was unusual with very few downs along the way. But we've got a lot of talent and have been hurt by injuries and a few other things. But I'm confident in our guys.
"There's plenty of time to play a lot of good hockey. As you know, you're not going to win the Stanley Cup at the end of December. The idea is to win games, pick up points and make the playoffs. Make the playoffs, anything can happen."
MORE STAMKOS: Coach Jon Cooper elaborated on his relationship and communication with Stamkos, who has denied any rift.
"I'm coaching the team, he's leading our team and scoring goals for us and that's what we are here to do and really that's all we care about," Cooper said. "My relationship with Steven, from Day 1, he's been unreal to work with. We couldn't ask for a better captain. When things are going on in the room, he approaches me, I approach him, he tells me what is going on. He's probably the guy I talk to the most on the team because he is our captain. And we've had a lot of success together. I'm pretty proud of him, with all the decisions he has to make, he has performed."
MEDICAL MATTERS: C Brian Boyle (upper body) and C Tyler Johnson (undisclosed) returned. Johnson had two shots in 17:43; Boyle was minus-1 in 8:58. Boyle had missed two games, Johnson seven. C Mike Angelidis and RW Mike Blunden were reassigned to AHL Syracuse. Cooper indicated LW Jonathan Drouin and LW Ondrej Palat (lower body) are more likely to return later in this homestand, which ends Saturday against Minnesota.
NUTS AND BOLTS: D Matt Carle was a healthy scratch. … It appears G Andrei Vasilevskiy will stay with Syracuse through today's game against Hershey. … Former Lightning D Mark Barberio made his Canadiens debut. "It was a dream come true," he said.