Why Did Steven Stamkos Leave the Tampa Bay Lightning After 16 Years?

"My family and I are excited for the next chapter," Steven said.


Jul. 1 2024, Published 6:07 p.m. ET

Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates the puck in the second period against the Florida Panthers during Game Three of the First Round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on April 25, 2024 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Source: Getty Images

After having becoming the face of the Tampa Bay Lightning upon joining the team as the No. 1 draft pick back in 2008, ice hockey great Steven Stamkos announced in June 2024 that he was moving on to Nashville.

So what's going on? Why did Steven leave the Lightning?

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Why did Steven Stamkos leave the Lightning?

Apparently it all comes down to salary cap restraints. According to The Sporting News, the Lightning were operating with around $5 million to work with. And with the trading of Mikhail Sergachev and Tanner Jeannot, the team reportedly got up to $16 million in available salary cap space. And while many fans thought this money would go toward a new contract with Steven, it just never happened.

Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning prepares for a face-off against the Florida Panthers in Game Five of the First Round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Amerant Bank Arena on April 29, 2024 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
Source: Getty Images
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Apparently Steven's contract offer remained at a reported eight years for $24 million, meaning an average annual value of $3 million — which would be pretty low for a player of Steven's caliber.

While fans were devastated to hear the news, there were those who understood the decision.

"I was going to be really sad about this, but it's the best deal for everybody. If he doesn't want to compromise on the money at all, it's best for him to walk out the door," wrote one fan on Reddit.

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But naturally, many fans were upset with Steven's manager for letting him go.

"Nooo!!! So disappointed with management and ownership. We have lost the heart of the team — no words.... Best of luck to you and tour family — you deserve every penny they offered and Nashville had no idea they hit the leadership jackpot yet," one fan tweeted.

Steven, who took home two Stanley Cups with the Lightning, signed a four-year, $32 million deal with the Nashville Predators.

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