Steven Stamkos could be struck off by Lightning, two big names getting bought out

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It has been a sweet 16 years for Steven Stamkos in Tampa Bay, including two Stanley Cups, but his time in the Sunshine State could be running out.

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After a year of uncertainty where he and the club did not sign a new deal, putting off talks until now, neither agent Don Meehan nor general manager Julien BriseBois sounded an optimistic note prior to the draft as July 1 approaches.

Meehan told The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun on Friday that Stamkos is headed for free agency on Monday, after BriseBois earlier informed media covering the team “as we stand here right now, we haven’t been able to reach an agreement yet. I don’t know if we will be able to.”

BriseBois mentioned discussions this week with Stamkos’ representative and that both sides are still interested in getting a deal done “but we have not been able to agree to terms that are satisfactory for both sides. It’s probably best if I leave my comments to that for the time being.”

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Stamko’s eight-year deal at $8.5 million US per season is up and, though there was great interest in him playing for his hometown Maple Leafs before that mega-contract, it’s unsure where the 34-year-old would land if not back in Amalie Arena, where he has become part of the city’s fabric. He just had his seventh season of 40 or more goals.

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Defenceman Victor Hedman also is nearing the end of his Lightning deal, but BriseBois indicated an extension is in the works.

BYE BUY

The first two prominent names to be informed of a buyout when the window opened for NHL teams on Thursday were forward Cam Atkinson of the Philadelphia Flyers and defenceman Ryan Suter of the Dallas Stars.

Atkinson, 35, had a year remaining with a $5.875 million hit as GM Danny Briere told local media it was a hard decision. CapFriendly calculated the two-thirds buyout will cost the Flyers $2.383 million toward the cap this coming season and another $1.758 million in ‘25-26.

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Suter, 39, had 17 points in 82 games and was a playoff contributor, but Dallas GM Jim Nill announced the buyout Friday. It’s a cap hit of $783,334 and $1,433,334 in ‘25-26. It was the second time Suter has been cashed out in his NHL career.

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ICE CHIPS

San Jose adding first-round draft capital for Friday evening has been followed by Montreal. The Canadiens made their move a few hours before the start of proceedings in Las Vegas, getting the Los Angeles Kings’ first selection at 21st, giving the Kings theirs at 26th, plus the 57th and 198th selections on Saturday. That gives Montreal two picks in the first round with their top pick at fifth overall. The Sharks, choosing first, added another at 11th with a deal that gave Buffalo the14th and 42nd selections … Congrats to Jim Kyte on being named to the Order of Canada this week. The former NHLer, who played through hearing loss, became an advocate for disability rights … Spotted working out with the Lightning this week in their summer skate, wearing a Tampa practice jersey, one-time Bolt UFA Patrick Maroon, who was with Boston last year … The PWHL’s Walter Cup now has been added to the Hockey Hall of Fame’s major championship trophy display … On Monday, Nashville goalie Juuse Saros is set to re-sign for eight years at $7.5 million AAV with the club. The 5-foot-11 Finn, just named to the Four Nations Faceoff roster, had a record of 35-24-5 last season and .906 save percentage. That dropped a bit as Vancouver eliminated the Preds in the first round. Saros is closing in on 200 wins with the franchise, with an overall save percentage of .917.

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