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Agent: Stamkos 'will be a free agent on July 1'


While Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois kept the door open to Steven Stamkos re-signing before Monday earlier today, the forward's agent may have just closed it.

"He will be a free agent on July 1,” Stamkos' agent Don Meehan told TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun. 

LeBrun notes that something could still change for Stamkos, who is the Lightning's captain, to stay but for now he appears set to hit the open market.

The long-term cap space for the Lightning may be running low as BriseBois said Friday the team expects to announce an extension for Victor Hedman once he can sign one on Monday. Hedman, 33, is entering the final season of his eight-year, $63 million deal with a cap hit of $7.875 million. 

"We've had discussions with Victor's agent about an extension," BriseBois said on a Zoom call with reporters. "In his case, we have more runway before we have to get a deal done. He still has one year left on his current agreement. That being said, the plan remains to be in a position to announce an agreement or a new contract with Victor in the coming days."

"As we stand here right now, we haven't been able to reach an agreement yet," BriseBois added of Stamkos. "I don't know if we will be able to reach an agreement but we met with Steven's agent again yesterday and both sides are still interested in getting a deal done but we have not been able to agree to terms that are satisfactory for both sides.

"I think, at this time, it's probably best if I leave my comments to that for the time being."

LeBrun reported earlier this week that the Nashville Predators have "serious interest" in Stamkos, while TSN Hockey Insider Chris Johnston pointed to the Detroit Red Wings, who are flush with cap space, as a another potential landing spot. 

Stamkos has spent his entire 16-year career with the Lightning and expressed his disappointment with the lack of contract talks prior to the season. Playing out the last of an eight-year, $68 million deal signed in 2016, the 34-year-old forward posted 40 goals and 81 points in 79 games during the regular season. 

Stamkos took pitches from various teams before ultimately re-signing with the Lightning in 2016.