Steven Stamkos is staying in Tampa Bay.

The star centre has decided to forego free agency to sign an eight-year, $68 million deal with the Lightning.

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The Lightning confirmed the signing on Thursday.

Stamkos will make $9.5 million in each of the first five years, followed by $7.5 million, $6.5 million and $6.5 million in the final three years. Stamkos' base salary will sit at $1 million each year, with the rest being paid as a signing bonus.

The 26-year-old scored 36 goals and 64 points in 77 games during the regular season last season, while also playing on the wing at times.

His regular season was cut short by blood clot in his right arm, which also forced him to miss all but one of Lightning’s 17 playoff games. He had two shots and was minus-1 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Lightning lost the game 2-1.

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“We are very appreciative of the effort and commitment that Steven and his representatives have exhibited in getting a deal done,” Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said in a release. “We are excited to have him as a cornerstone part of the team for the next eight years as we continue in the franchise’s ultimate pursuit of winning another Stanley Cup.” 

The Markham, Ont. native posted a career-high in goals during the 2011-12 season with 60, but he has not eclipsed the 45-goal mark since that season.

Since making his debut with the Lightning in 2008 – the same year he was selected first overall – Stamkos owns 312 goals and 562 points in the NHL.

“I am excited to move forward with the Lightning today for the next eight years,” said Stamkos. “It’s not often that a player gets the chance to spend his career in one organization and I am hopeful that this agreement sets me on that path with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Most importantly, I look forward to working with my teammates, coaches and our management in our goal of winning a Stanley Cup.” 

He was named the 10th captain in Lightning history in March 2014.

His cap hit sat at $7.5 million last season, the final year of his five-year, $37.5 million contract with the Lightning.