The Tampa Bay Lightning aren't out of the woods yet with regards to Stammergeddon 2.0.
But if the Lightning captain's comments on Friday are any indication, there won't be nearly as much controversy this time around as Tampa Bay looks to what their captain's future plans might be.
Here's video, from the team:
Unfortunately, that video ends just as the relevant bits on Stamkos' future were discussed:
"Yeah I think that's exactly what the plan is [...] but I'm obviously very happy with where I am in Tampa. You see the team we've been able to develop the past couple of years, the ownership we have, obviously [general manager] Steve Yzerman, the coaching staff, the young nucleus of the team. I feel like the old fart at 24, all these guys coming in here, but they've played extremely well and I want to be part of it, to say I was there from the beginning to see the end result."
Stamkos and his veteran agent Don Meehan of Newport Sports Management plan to discuss his future after the season.
Stamkos could become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career in the summer of 2016.
Most of the speculation has centered on Toronto, with Stamkos hailing from nearby Markham. A couple of favorited tweets in the summer of 2014 fueled that fire some more, and so the debate has raged on -- will Stamkos opt to stay for the young, talented, well-run club in the Sunshine State or the bloated bottom-feeders at the center of the hockey universe?
Advantage: Tampa Bay. At least for now.
Stamkos mentions deals signed by fellow All-Stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks, and for good reason: Stamkos is getting paid no matter where he signs. The matching deals for the two 'Hawks will see them paid $10.5 million per year for 8 years beginning with the 2015-16 season. They both agreed to extensions shortly after their official negotiation window opened, suggesting both A) that they were interested in staying and playing for the perennial contender and B) that they likely had at least discussed the terms of a potential extension prior to being allowed to officially sign one.
Stamkos is in a similar situation, with elite production to warrant asking for a maximum contract. Tampa Bay can offer him one extra year on top of what any team could in unrestricted free agency, and the team looks poised to be in contention in the Eastern Conference and for the Stanley Cup over the near and not-so-near future.
In a salary cap league, a young, talented core drafted and developed from within is key, and Steve Yzerman has embraced that mantra. Tampa Bay has become the model team for supplementing a young, home-grown, cost-controlled core with useful veterans from free agency to build a winner. It's a formula that works now and can sustain itself indefinitely if managed adeptly (so far, so good).
It's no wonder, then, that at least for now Tampa Bay looks like they'll be able to retain their captain -- as much as it will pain Toronto fans and media convinced he was leaving as recently as last July.