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Stamkos, Lightning talking as Trade Deadline nears

Says he hasn't been asked to waive no-move clause @NHLdotcom

Steven Stamkos said Thursday that "obviously there's going to be some answers" about his contract status with the NHL Trade Deadline approaching on Feb. 29.

The Tampa Bay Lightning captain can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

"The trade deadline is coming up in a couple weeks," Stamkos told TSN. "I'm sure everyone will have some answers in a couple weeks, when that time comes. We've kept everything to ourselves and I know it [stinks] for you [media], I totally understand. But I think you can appreciate the way we've conducted business, and whatever happens in the next couple weeks, obviously there's going to be some answers."

Stamkos' agent, Don Meehan, said Wednesday that contract talks with the Lightning are ongoing and productive, but that the sides are not rushing toward a decision.

"They're productive, yes they are," Meehan told Sportsnet 590 The Fan. "All of our discussions have been productive, they've been professional. I know that Tampa understands and appreciates the fact that Steven has every right and ability to take as much time as necessary to make a decision in relation to his future. And they understand that, they recognize that, that's his right, and that's really what we're engaged in at this point in time." 

Video: TOR@TBL: Stamkos beats Bernier on the power play

As the deadline approaches, teams are faced with the choice of trading a pending free agent or risk losing the player for nothing if he signs elsewhere after the season.

Stamkos and Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman have said multiple times the intention is for the 26-year-old center to stay with Tampa Bay long-term.

Stamkos has a full no-movement clause and told writer Frank Seravalli he hasn't thought about what he would do if Yzerman asked him to waive it.

"I think the answer is, we'll cross that bridge at the time," Stamkos said. "I don't think it's that time right [now]. So, I continue to come to the rink every day as the leader that I am and the teammate that everyone in this room knows that I am, and give my best effort. I've said that since Day One of training camp and that hasn't changed. …

"There's no use in me speculating and saying things that someone can twist. We've had open lines of communication. There are ongoing talks. Really, that's been it. There hasn't been anything that we're going to say that's going to blow everyone out of the water. We've done it that way, shown a lot of respect towards each other. … Obviously, I know the deadline is coming up, but we'll continue to talk."

Stamkos is playing the final season of a five-year, $37.5 million contract. He has been able to sign another of up to eight years with the Lightning since July 1, 2015.

The Toronto Maple Leafs traded captain Dion Phaneuf to the Ottawa Senators in a nine-player deal on Tuesday, raising speculation they were clearing space under the NHL salary cap to pursue Stamkos, who is from Markham, Ontario.

Video: TBL@WSH: Stamkos rifles wicked wrister past Holtby

"I really don't think it would be fair for me to convey what [Steven is] telling me, or what his instructions are," Meehan told "Prime Time Sports." "I can tell you this: that he's a very thoughtful, he's a very resourceful individual. He's diligent. And he's doing what I believe every player should do in these circumstances when you're engaged in the process of committing to a long-term contract, which would be for the better part of his career. And that he's doing, that he's doing."

Chicago Blackhawks forwards Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews each signed an eight-year, $84 million contract the offseason prior to becoming free agents. On Jan. 16, Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar signed an eight-year contract reportedly worth $80 million, avoiding pending free agency.

Meehan said money is not Stamkos' primary motivation. 

Video: TBL@COL: Stamkos goes five-hole for his second goal

"We have a long, long list of considerations for players like that [who] are going to commit to an eight-year term," Meehan said. "Then there are many personal issues, there are many professional issues, there are many economic issues.

"And to do this right, to do it right, to do I think justice to the whole process, everyone should take as much as time as necessary to review all these considerations so that when the decision is made you won't have any regrets by saying, 'Well, I never thought of that, I never covered that off, I never considered that.' …

"Nobody should make any excuses for doing that. I think you really owe it to yourself to do that in every respect."

Stamkos was a restricted free agent in July 2011 and took 18 days before signing his five-year contract.

He has 21 goals and 40 points in 53 games this season. Stamkos, the first pick in the 2008 NHL Draft, has 297 goals and 538 points in 545 games, all with the Lightning. He won the Rocket Richard Trophy in 2010 and 2012, has four 40-goal seasons, and has scored at least 20 goals in each of his first eight seasons. In 2011-12, he became the 20th player in League history to score 60 goals in a season.

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