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Andreychuk expects Stamkos to stay with Lightning

Tampa Bay VP confident captain 'is going to come back'

by NHL.com @nhl / NHL.com

Steven Stamkos "is going to come back" to the Tampa Bay Lightning with a new contract, vice president of corporate and community affairs Dave Andreychuk told "Hockey Central" on Wednesday..

"Steven is going to come back. He's going to be fine," Andreychuk said. "I still believe that general manager Steve Yzerman is trying whatever he can do to sign Steven Stamkos and I believe it will happen. Even with all this going on, I think it will happen."

Stamkos is in the final season of a five-year, $37.5 million contract and can become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

Andreychuk was Lightning captain during their 2004 Stanley Cup championship. He was speaking as a guest on the Sportsnet program.

"[Stamkos] understands what it is to be a superstar," Andreychuk said. "He is the face of the franchise. There's no doubt in my mind. If I have a sick kid in the hospital, he's on it right away."

Stamkos missed the final five games of the regular season and every game so far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs after being diagnosed with a blood clot. He is skating and traveling with the Lightning, who have a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 Easten Conference Second Round against the New York Islanders.

Game 4 is at Barclays Center in New York on Friday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Stamkos said he had hoped to sign a contract last summer, a year before he would become a free agent, similar to what the Chicago Blackhawks did with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews in July 2014.

The No. 1 pick of the 2008 NHL Draft, Stamkos has 562 points (312 goals, 250 assists) in 569 regular-season games. He won the Rocket Richard Trophy in 2010 and 2012, has four 40-goal seasons, and has scored at least 20 in his first eight seasons in the NHL. He had 64 points (36 goals, 28 assists) in 77 games this season.

In 2011-12 he became the 20th player in NHL history to score 60 goals in a season. He has been Lightning captain since March 6, 2014.

Yzerman also will need to address the contracts of impending restricted free agent forwards Nikita Kucherov, Alex Killorn, Vladislav Namestnikov and Cedric Paquette, and defenseman Nikita Nesterov.

Commissioner Gary Bettman has said the NHL salary cap for the 2016-17 season could go up approximately $3 million. The salary cap for the 2015-16 season was $71.4 million. It increased $2.4 million from 2014-15 to 2015-16.

"That's not an easy job for [Yzerman]," Andreychuk said. "Thankfully our owner [Jeff Vinik] has said to Steve, 'Whatever the cap is, that's what you got.' If we were in any other smaller market, ownership is putting the cap at $60 million, and now you're in trouble."

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