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Lightning GM BriseBois 'very hopeful' of re-signing Stamkos


Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois is “very hopeful” to re-sign captain Steven Stamkos as he approaches unrestricted free agency this summer.

BriseBois, who spoke openly in September about waiting until after the campaign to enter into talks with Stamkos, said Wednesday he’s already touched base with Stamkos' agent.

"Obviously Steven Stamkos needs a contract and we want him to be part of that group," BriseBois told reporters. "You all saw how from the trade deadline on, Stammer elevated his play, which was incredible to see. For someone who you could say has already earned his Hall of Fame plaque, has accomplished so much already and has been accomplishing so much for so long, for him to play arguably the best two months of hockey of his career, because it started around the trade deadline and he carried it all the way through the series against the Panthers, for him to do that at the time when our team needed it most was incredible.

"You were all able to see how he lead on the ice. What’s hard to see is how he also elevated his leadership game off the ice. Last summer, for various reasons, a lot of leadership left our team and nobody in our group raised their leadership more than Steven Stamkos did to fill that void. That’s harder for all of you and even for me, because I’m not in the locker room and not there all the time, to see. But that’s the case.

"...The aim is for him to continue to play on a contending Tampa Bay Lightning team going forward."

ContentId(1.2114036): Stamkos on uncertain future with Lightning: 'We haven't even had a discussion yet'

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. 

Despite a quick playoff exit against the Florida Panthers, Stamkos was a key contributor for the Lightning in the first round, finishing with five goals and an assist in five games. He insisted his contract situation was not on his mind as the team was eliminated with a 6-1 loss on Monday night.

“No, that never crossed my mind,” Stamkos said. “I’m out there battling to try to help our team win regardless at the end of the game. We’re trying to score and there’s some pride on the line for our group, so no."

BriseBois' comments came two days after Lightning head coach Jon Cooper made his case for Stamkos to stay put following their season-ending loss.

“I don’t know if there will be much conversation. I hope not anyway,” Cooper said. “He belongs here. We know it, he knows it.

“We’ve grown up together. He’s a heck of a player, but he’s also, you know, I mean, he controls his own destiny, but I don’t know what’s going to happen. But he feels like a Bolt for life, but only he and [general manager Julien BriseBois] can answer that one.”

A two-time Stanley Cup winner with the Lightning, Stamkos made it clear he wanted to open talks before training camp, while BriseBois remained steadfast that he would wait until after the season to decide the team's course of action.

"Steven and I share a common goal of bringing the Cup back to Tampa — that’s our objective," BriseBois said in September. “In order for us to do that in future years, we’re going to need to spend our cap dollars as wisely as possible. In order for me to do that, I feel like I need to gather more information."

“I need to see how the pieces of the puzzle fit this year,” he added. "After the season, once I’ve gathered that information, I can work with Steven and his agent on a contract structure that would be in the best interest of both sides.”

Drafted first overall by the Lightning in 2008, Stamkos is a seven-time all-star, won the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy in 2010 and 2012, and was named as a second-team all-star in 2011 and 2012. 

Over the course of his career, he has 555 goals and 1,137 points in 1,082 games. He is the Lightning’s all-time leader in goals, points and games played.