NHL

Lightning sign Stamkos to five-year deal

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The Tampa Bay Lightning agreed to terms on a five-year deal to keep star center Steven Stamkos, the team announced Tuesday.

Stamkos, a 21-year-old restricted free agent, has led the Lightning in goals each of the last two seasons, leading the NHL with 96 goals combined during that period.

CENTER PIECE

The Tampa Bay Lightning don't have a ton of money for free agents, so retaining their stars is a priority. The re-signing of Steven Stamkos is the key to their offseason.

"Steven is extremely important to this franchise and is part of the foundation of our hockey team," Tampa vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman said, according to the team's website. "We are very pleased to have him signed and look forward to seeing him in a Lightning uniform for years to come."

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft agreed to a deal that will pay out $37.5 million over five years, according to NHL.com.

"I am excited we were able to reach an agreement today," Stamkos said. "This was obviously very important to me and I appreciate [owner Jeffrey Vinik] and Steve Yzerman for all their work in the transformation of the franchise as we move forward. There is no place I'd rather be than as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning."

The Lightning, after failing to make the playoffs in 2009-10, advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals last season before losing to eventual Stanley Cup champions Boston in seven games.

Stamkos, who was making his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut, recorded six goals and 13 points in 18 appearances for Tampa. Stamkos was named to the 2011 NHL Second All-Star Team.

Tagged: Lightning, Steve Yzerman, Steven Stamkos

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