Tampa Bay Lightning star and pending free agent Steven Stamkos isn't going anywhere before the NHL's Feb. 29 trade deadline, general manager Steve Yzerman said in a statement issued Monday.
With Stamkos's contract set to expire after this season, the two-time NHL goal-scoring champion has been the subject of various rumours as he nears unrestricted free agency and what is sure to be a massive payday. Some have speculated that Stamkos is eyeing a move to Toronto, which is a short drive from his hometown of Markham, Ont.
Yzerman issued the following statement through the Lightning:
"As February 29th approaches, I am stating today that Steven Stamkos will not be traded before the NHL's trade deadline. I have said repeatedly that it is our hope to reach an agreement with Steven on a new contract at some point, and with 27 games remaining in the season, our entire organization, Steven included, wants to focus on making the playoffs. I will keep the negotiating process strictly between the involved parties and have no further comment on the state of those negotiations."
Stamkos, 26, has 22 goals and 20 assists in 55 games this season. He scored 43 goals last season and added another seven in 26 playoff contests to help the Lightning reach the Stanley Cup final, where they lost to Chicago.
Heading into Monday night's action, Tampa Bay was hanging onto the final wild-card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The first overall pick in the 2008 draft, Stamkos has spent all eight of his pro seasons with Tampa Bay. He scored 51 goals in his second NHL season to earn a share of the Rocket Richard Trophy with Sidney Crosby, and potted a career-high 60 two years later, in 2011-12, to win his only solo goal-scoring title.
Stamkos is making $5.5 million US this season, with a salary-cap hit of $7.5 million.