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Steven Stamkos has reportedly received his first contract offer from the Tampa Bay Lightning

You've been waiting for news on this front for a while. Here it is.

Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

While the Lightning's spat with Jonathan Drouin has dominated the news cycle in many ways and warmed the transaction wire, there's been an elephant in the room that's been craving attention for the duration of this spat, if not a little longer: one Mister Steven Stamkos and the status of his contract. Stamkos is a pending Unrestricted Free Agent and talk about a contract extension has lingered since this time last year.

It's been a long, long wait for some substance on the matter but at least a shred of info has come out. Though it's all rumor/speculation, the source of Elliotte Friedman is one that tends to be reliable.

Eight years, $68 million. A cap hit of $8.5 million a season.  We link to the video clip itself from Hockey Night in Canada - with rumor speculation including that of Drouin:

It's believed to be the first formal offer either side has submitted despite lengthy talks over the past few months. In that regard, this - the offer - is the start of a closing process. If your immediate reaction toward the offer is something like "That's low and insulting," "That's perfect," or "Does he get fries with that," it's sort of moot if this is indeed the first formal offer. It's how Newport Sports Agency and Stamkos himself respond to the offer (with a counter) that will set the range to be bridged.

The point-of-no-return date on talks is February 29th, 2016 at 3 PM. If GM Steve Yzerman has doubts he can ink his captain to a cost effective contract, or Stamkos himself does not like where talks are going, that's the last point the sides can cut ties during the 2015-16 season.

The deadline to iron out that contract extension is July 1, 2016 as free agency begins at 12 PM EDT.