Turns out, captain Steven Stamkos' return wasn't as imminent as once thought.
Stamkos, 27, said Monday that he and the Lightning "got a little bit ahead of ourselves," in terms of when he'd be able to come back. If the playoffs had started today, Stamkos wouldn't have been ready. There wasn't a setback, per se, the injury just didn't progress as quickly as he thought.
"I don't think it was as close as everyone thought, or maybe we had thought at one time," Stamkos said. "I think we got a little ahead of ourselves. When it came out that it was day-to-day, I don't think it was quite day to day. It was definitely improving, it was at a point where I was out there working hard and getting myself in position if we got in the playoffs, I was going to give myself a chance to be healthy. Obviously it didn't work out."
Stamkos said he won't take much time off at all this summer, continuing to rehab and skate. He acknowledged this was the toughest injury he came back from, especially the first six weeks on crutches, when he lost 15-16 pounds.
"You're starting back from zero," he said.
But Stamkos, heading into the second year of an eight-year contract, said he has no doubt he'll be ready for training camp and 100 percent for next season.
"I'm confident I'll be 100 percent," Stamkos said. "It's just taking time. That's the thing with any injury, the more time you give, the more healthy you're going to be. I have no doubt I'll be feeling good at the end of the summer."
More from exit interviews: Center Tyler Johnson, who missed 13 of the last 15 games with a lower body injury, said "probably another week or two, and I'd be back to 100-percent." "But unfortunately right now, we don't have that time." Johnson said there's no offseason procedure needed, and he tried to come back for a couple games, but it wasn't right. " Johnson is an RFA this summer, as is Ondrej Palat. Both said they hope a new deal can get done as quick as possible. Jonathan Drouin is an RFA too, with the Lightning hoping of re-signing him too. "He's a big piece of our core, im my opinion," Stamkos said.