Steven Stamkos fires shot at Auston Matthews and the Maple Leafs

Ryan Smitheram
May 2, 2024  (2:45 PM)

Steven Stamkos is a pending UFA
Photo credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Steven Stamkos fired a shot at the Toronto Maple Leafs and Auston Matthews when asked about his pending UFA status and contract situation.

For the past couple of days, since the Tampa Bay Lightning were eliminated by the Florida Panthers from the Stanley Cup playoffs, much of the conversation has been about Lightning Captain Steven Stamkos. As of right now, Stamkos will become a UFA on July first as his contract is set to expire.
Both, the Lightning and Stamkos have expressed interest in an extension which is a complete 180 from the start of the season.
In discussing a possible extension and the team in Tampa, Stamkos compared Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman's salary's as severely underpaid compared to the likes of Matthews, inferring that the Leafs' salary cap situation and Matthews' high price tag is one of the primary reasons that the Leafs haven't won anything.
"I think that has been a part of everyone's thought process in the core group of guys that we have had here in terms of what guys have taken over the years to stay here. I understand the tax advantage and that type of thing. Kuch is making $9.5. That is probably grossly underpaid in terms of what guys are getting now. Vasy. Pointer with 40 or 50 goals every year. You look at Matthews. What did he sign for? $13.5 or something? Heddy is making under $8 million. That is grossly underpaid if you look at what he has done. That is what everyone has done here and that is why we have had the success and that is the way it has been for this organization. I think that that in itself is a testament to management in how they want to build a team and, first and foremost, the players for wanting to do that and accept that and allow the management to go out there and build a roster to compete for the Stanley Cup. I think that's just always been the way it's been here"

To an extent, Stamkos is right in that Kucherov is underpaid, but at the same time, without the state tax, it allows him to take home nearly the same money as if he signed for $13M in Toronto or somewhere else.
It is a huge advantage for the Bolts and Panthers, as well as Vegas and Nashville, and it is major factor as to why Vegas and both Florida teams have been able to sign so many high-profile players.
Personally, I find it annoying when someone signs a contract that was market value at the time, like Kucherov, who's deal was signed in July of 2018, becomes "underpaid" because players are signing for far more money SIX years later. As for Stamkos, his cap hit is currently $8.5M while the Lightning have 16 players signed for next season leaving them with just over $12.5M in cap space, the ball is in Stamkos' corner as he will have to decide if he wants to take a discount to remain on a competitive team or chase one final big contract at the age of 34.
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Steven Stamkos fires shot at Auston Matthews and the Maple Leafs

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