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Stamkos remains top priority for Lightning: report

Tampa Bay GM Yzerman: 'Our goal is to keep [him] in Tampa and make it work'

NHL.com @NHL

Signing center Steven Stamkos to a new contract remains the top priority for the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

"Our goal is to keep [Stamkos] in Tampa and make it work," Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman told the Tampa Bay Times on Tuesday. "That's our plan."

Stamkos can become an unrestricted free agent July 1. He led the Lightning with 36 goals this season but had surgery April 4 to remove a blood clot from near his right collarbone. He returned to the lineup for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins on May 26 but had no points in 11:55 of ice time in the 2-1 loss. 

"I hope to be back here; we obviously have unfinished business," Stamkos said May 27. "This group had been unbelievable. The city has been unbelievable. I can't believe it's been eight years already."

Video: John Shannon talks Stamkos free-agency options

Stamkos, selected by Tampa Bay with the No. 1 pick of the 2008 NHL Draft, has 312 goals since the 2008-09 season, the second-most in the NHL behind Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals (362).

In addition to missing Stamkos for most of the conference final, the Lightning also were without goaltender Ben Bishop, who sustained an injury to his left ankle and shin during the first period of Game 1 against Pittsburgh.

Bishop said Tuesday he is training in Tampa and told the Tampa Bay Times his leg is getting better and won't affect his preparation for next season and the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. Bishop will play for Team USA at the tournament, which will be played at Air Canada Centre in Toronto from Sept. 17 to Oct. 1. All games will be televised by ESPN in the United States and Sportsnet and TVA Sports in Canada.

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