Insider: "Friends Around The League" Trying To Recruit Stamkos

The Tampa Bay Lightning were struck down in the first round once again this season, bowing out in five games to the Florida Panthers. The biggest question now facing the Bolts as they head into the offseason: What will become of the team's legendary captain, UFA Steven Stamkos?

The two-time Stanley Cup winner and seven-time 40-goal scorer is now 34, and everyone is wondering if the Lightning will shell out another long-term deal to keep the face of the franchise around. 

Insider Elliotte Friedman posits on The Jeff Marek Show on Tuesday that both sides would like to do another deal—for the right price. But he also notes that Stamkos is being heavily recruited around the NHL:

Stamkos has a lot of friends around the league, and they would love to convince him to come join them. I think that's true, but I think they all know that his preference is to stay where he is.

So how does that get done, then? Friedman figures the Lightning will be making an offer that's definitely not market value — but still good enough to convince Stamkos to stay. 

"(Stamkos) made it sound like it didn't have to be a long conversation... He made it sound like there's a deal to be made there... And that the Lightning themselves know how important it is to make a deal. 

"The Lightning know that that's where he wants to be... I think it's all going to come down to: are they going to make an offer that's legitimate enough—it's going to be under-market—that makes him say, 'Yeah, that's good enough. I'll take it.'"

On the other hand, is it at all possible that one of those "friends around the league" makes a convincing enough pitch to get him to move? 

Photo: © Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports