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Tampa Bay Lightning's Steven Stamkos becomes a restricted free agent

The Tampa Bay Lightning did not reach a deal with All-Star center Steven Stamkos by today's noon deadline, making him a restricted free agent.

General manager Steve Yzerman had hoped to get a contract done before noon not only to keep Stamkos from becoming a restricted free agent but to better know what he can offer unrestricted free agents.

The Lightning — which is about $18 million under the $64.3 million salary cap, with 17 of the maximum 23 roster players under contract — has holes to fill in net and at forward.

Stamkos is expected to come in at between $7 million and $8 million, especially now that Flyers GM Paul Holmgren told Philadelphia reporters he will not give Stamkos an offer sheet.

Toronto still is rumored to be contemplating an offer sheet that would force the Lightning to match and jack up Stamkos' salary. But that seems a long shot for a team so far from a title and that would have to give Tampa Bay four first-round draft choices as compensation.

And remember, Stamkos, 21, who has said he wants to play for the Lightning, does not have to sign an offer sheet if he gets one.

Tampa Bay Lightning's Steven Stamkos becomes a restricted free agent 07/01/11 [Last modified: Friday, July 1, 2011 2:30pm]
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