Tampa Bay Lightning vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman is putting all of the Steven Stamkos trade rumors to rest.
With the NHL’s Feb. 29 trade deadline approaching, Yzerman released a statement of the Lightning’s intent to keep their All-Star captain and focus the remainder of the season on a postseason push.
“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,” Yzerman said.
As trade rumors regarding Stamkos surfaced, the Rangers found themselves linked to the 26-year-old center. Speculation spewed that the Blueshirts could use someone like Stamkos to make their Stanley Cup breakthrough and to strengthen the young group of players on hand.
The Rangers have been linked to Stamkos before when the 2008 No. 1 overall pick as a rookie. Former Rangers general manager Glen Sather told the New York Post in 2010 that he had a handshake agreement to acquire Stamkos during the 2008-09 season. Although the trade came strikingly close, it was never finalized.
Stamkos has scored 22 goals and assisted on 20 more in 55 games for the Lightning, who entered yesterday with 64 points and as the second wild card in the Eastern Conference.
Tampa Bay defeated the Rangers in seven games to reach the Stanley Cup Finals last year before losing to the Blackhawks in six.