The Tampa Bay Lightning will re-sign center Steven Stamkos to an eight-year, $68 million contract. 

Steven Stamkos re-signs with the Lightning.

Steven Stamkos re-signs with the Lightning.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The annual average salary is $8.5 million, considerably less than what Stamkos could’ve received on the open market. It’s believed the Detroit Red Wings and Buffalo Sabres were prepared to offer up over $10 million per season on seven year deals. The Toronto Maple Leafs were long rumored as a destination as well. 

That salary is also what Lightning GM Steve Yzerman claimed was his best offer. Stamkos left money on the table to stick with the only NHL team he’s played for. He chose the chance to play for a Stanley Cup contender for the next several seasons over chasing big bucks elsewhere and putting those championship dreams on hold. 

This move ensures veteran continuity for the Lightning. Stamkos is among the NHL’s top stars, exceeding 35 goals five times in his career and twice winning the Richard Trophy as the league’s top goal scorer. The deal shows a commitment by player and team to maintain a championship contender. 

This signing, however, will make it difficult for the Lightning to re-sign other key players. With $9.3 million in projected salary-cap space (as per General Fanager) for 2016-17, they still have to re-sign RFAs Nikita Kucherov, Alex Killorn, Vladislav Namestnikov and Nikita Nestorov.  It’ll also affect efforts to re-sign Victor Hedman, Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Jonathan Drouin next summer. That could give rise to rumors of a salary-dumping deal involving goalie Ben Bishop ($5.9 million cap hit) and defenseman Matt Carle ($5.5 million)