Tampa Bay Lightning owner expresses confidence in team signing Steven Stamkos
Although Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos has raised some eyebrows recently with suspicious social media activity, team owner Jeff Vinik told reporters he remains confident that the organization will re-sign Stamkos before the star becomes a free agent. Stamkos's contract is set to expire at the end of the season, meaning the Lightning have until July 1 to sign Stamkos to a new deal before the captain can negotiate with other teams.
Tampa GM Steve Yzerman called signing Stamkos a priority for the 2015 offseason, but after no deal was signed, fans in Tampa started to wonder whether their captain would indeed be back for the 2016-17 season and beyond. It did not help matters when Stamkos favorited a tweet in December asking whether the Toronto Maple Leafs should pursue Stamkos.
But Vinik's confidence could reassure Tampa Bay fans. Via The Tampa Bay Times:
Stamkos, a native of Markham, Ontario, would be a popular figure if he returned back home to play for the Maple Leafs. But Stamkos has remained mostly mum on the topic, and he told reporters earlier this month that his actions on Twitter were simply a mistake similar to a pocket dial. Stamkos un-favorited the tweet.
The 25-year-old has played his entire career with the Lightning after Tampa Bay snatched Stamkos with the first overall pick of the 2008 NHL Draft. Stamkos has 526 points in 529 games with the Lightning and helped lead the team to three postseason appearances in the past five years.
“Absolutely,” Vinik said when asked if a deal would get done. “I'm sure that this process will work itself out in a good manner.”