Stamkos to Hit Open Market After Lightning Low-Ball Offer

The Steven Stamkos drama that's playing out in Tampa Bay has had a bizarre twist, as we've learned this afternoon that the Lightning have made a low-ball offer to their longtime captain that has forced his agent, Don Meehan, to declare that Stamkos will indeed become a free agent on Monday.

David Pagnotta revealed in a stunning report on NHL Network Radio Friday afternoon that the Bolts were not only offering their franchise icon a relatively small AAV, but also not much term:

There are some reports out there with respect to Stamkos, and it aligns with the numbers that we've heard: under $4 million AAV on a short-term deal... That was a little surprising.

Pagnotta's co-hosts Ryan Paton and Dennis Bernstein were flabbergasted: "I'd be insulted if I was him. I'm insulted for him," and "I wouldn't go back," were the stunned replies. 

It's likely that the writing was on the wall for this all along, as Stamkos has been eligible for an extension since last summer, as his 8-year, $8.5 million AAV deal expired at the end of this season. 

Many have speculated that maybe a lower AAV would be acceptable for the 34-year-old if it was on a long-term deal. But this report of a short-term offer at a more than 50%-60% pay cut, for a player who still scored 40 goals this past season—40 goals!—and has led the team to two Stanley Cups while scoring 555 goals over 16 years, and another 50 goals in 128 playoff games, is kind of hard to fathom. 

And it's why his agent has declared that he will make it to the open market on July 1st. 

 Photo: © James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports