A shift to the wing raises questions again about Steven Stamkos’ relationship with Lightning coach Jon Cooper, while Travis Hamonic’s play has improved since his trade request was revealed.

Speculation persists over Steven Stamkos' relationship with Lightning coach Jon Cooper.

Speculation persists over Steven Stamkos’ relationship with Lightning coach Jon Cooper.

TORONTO SUN: Mike Zeisberger reports Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos has been shifted to left wing for the last three games. That will likely continue to stoke questions over his relationship with head coach Jon Cooper, as well as his future with the Lightning.

Zeisberger noted the second guessing over their relationship began after Cooper was recently re-signed to a contract extension. He also believes Stamkos “wasn’t actually oozing with enthusiasm” after the Lightning’s recent victory, “especially with reporters pestering him about being shifted away from centre.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The longer Stamkos goes unsigned, the more we’ll see reports like this musing over his unhappiness playing for Cooper. If Stamkos re-signs, the reporters will be chided by fans and bloggers for making a mountain out of a molehill. If he doesn’t, these pundits will triumphantly point back to these reports as proof they were right all along.

As for Stamkos’ contract talks, there’s nothing new to report. Both sides have agreed not to discuss the situation with the media. Should a deal get done, no one will have any inkling of it until the moment it’s announced. 

NEWSDAY: Mark Hermann reports New York Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic has seemingly improved since his request to be traded to a Western Canadian team was leaked to the media nearly a month ago. Hermann notes Hamonic’s led the Isles in ice time in 13 games this season and remains very much committed to helping the Islanders win this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s only going to boost Hamonic’s trade value. General managers value professionalism as highly as ability. It’s also going to make it difficult for the Islanders to trade him.Hamonic’s a valuable core player, making him very difficult to replace.

GM Garth Snow reportedly wants a comparable defenseman in return. It could take until next summer to sort out a deal. In the meantime, Hamonic obviously isn’t letting this situation hurt his play or his relationship with his teammates.