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Tampa Bay Lightning's Steven Stamkos stays the course on contract optimism

ST. PETERSBURG — Lightning star center Steven Stamkos said Thursday that though there are no updates of his contract talks with the team, he is still optimistic something will get done.

Stamkos, 21, had a league-best 96 goals the past two seasons, including 45 this season. His expiring three-year, entry-level contract paid a base salary of $875,000, and it's expected 2008's top overall draft pick will sign for about $7 million a season.

Stamkos can be a restricted free agent July 1.

"It's going to take care of itself. It's not something I'm losing sleep over," Stamkos said. "Right now, I'm just focused on trying to get back into a training routine. It's been nice to relax, get a couple weeks off. Right now we're just having some fun and (Friday) get back to business."

Stamkos, who just got back from a vacation in Mexico, took batting practice with the Rays on Thursday at Tropicana Field — along with teammates Mike Smith, Teddy Purcell and Nate Thompson — and said he planned to head today to Toronto, where his agents are based.

Smith, a goalie who can be an unrestricted free agent July 1, said that there are no updates on his contract status and he still hopes to re-sign with the team, as does Purcell, a wing who also can be a restricted free agent.

"They're still talking and stuff, and hopefully something will get done pretty soon," Purcell said. "Obviously I want to be back here. It was a good fit for me. Hopefully that will take care of itself."

new scout: Rob Kitamura, 39, was hired as an amateur scout. He spent the past seven years as director of central scouting for the junior Ontario league.

Times staff writer Damian Cristodero contributed to this report.

Tampa Bay Lightning's Steven Stamkos stays the course on contract optimism 06/17/11 [Last modified: Friday, June 17, 2011 1:33am]

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