Lightning say Samkos won't be traded before NHL deadline

Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) celebrates with teammates after scoring against the Nashville Predators during the third period of an NHL hockey game Friday, Feb. 12, 2016, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning aren't parting ways any time soon.

The team announced Monday that the two-time Maurice Richard Trophy winner won't be moved before this month's trade deadline. The announcement ends speculation that the defending Eastern Conference champions might abandon hopes of signing Stamkos, who's twice been the NHL's top goal scorer, to a long-term contract extension.

Stamkos is in the final year of a deal that pays him about $5.5 million this season. He is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in July.

Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman released a statement saying he, Stamkos and the entire Tampa Bay organization are focused on trying to make the playoffs. He said talks on a new contract will continue and remain private.

Tampa Bay is currently in eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings.