TAMPA -- Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos hopes the announcement from general manager Steve Yzerman that he won't move Stamkos before the Feb. 29 NHL Trade Deadline slows down some of the speculation about his immediate future.
"It's been a tough year in that regard having to deal with that stuff," Stamkos said after the morning skate for the Lightning's game against the San Jose Sharks at Amalie Arena (7:30 p.m. ET; CSN-CA, SUN, NHL.TV). "Hopefully this lightens the load a little bit. I said it all along from training camp that I wanted to be here and I want to win a championship."
Stamkos will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Contract discussions have been taking place all season with the Lightning and Stamkos' agent, Don Meehan of Newport Sports, each promising not to make those discussions public.
Despite the media blackout, Sportsnet's Elliott Friedman reported the Lightning offered Stamkos an eight-year, $68 million contract in December.
Stamkos said the two sides have continued to have discussions and he knew about Yzerman's plans before the Lightning released a statement Monday.
Video: NHL Tonight: Talking Steven Stamkos
"We've had a lot of discussions this season we've kept to ourselves," Stamkos said. "And obviously this is a decision by both parties that we thought was the best route and something that I wanted. So obviously I'm looking forward to not having to deal with all the questions for the remainder of the season and focus on hockey."
Stamkos said his goals haven't changed and he's expecting more out of himself as the Lightning make a push for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the final 27 games. They entered Tuesday with a 30-21-4 record for 64 points, fourth in the Atlantic Division and holding the second wild card from the Eastern Conference.
Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness said Stamkos has done his part to make sure his contract situation hasn't been an issue.
"We don't think it's been a distraction all year," Bowness said. "Give Steven a ton of credit, he's handled it like a true professional, just like we knew he would. The leader that he is, Steven would not allow it to be a distraction in the room."