Steven Stamkos, F, Tampa Bay Light­ning

The Denver Post - - SPORTS -

When: Cap­tain Stamkos and the Light­ning visit the Avalanche on Tues­day in a na­tion­ally tele­vised game at the Pepsi Cen­ter.

What’s up: Stamkos is a scor­ing ma­chine and a pend­ing un­re­stricted free agent who prob­a­bly will be­come the NHL’s high­est-paid player by July 2, a day af­ter free agency be­gins. He has been un­able to agree on a con­tract ex­ten­sion with the cap-strapped Light­ning and is ru­mored to have a de­sire to re­turn to his na­tive On­tario and sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Back­ground: Stamkos was the No. 1 pick in the 2008 draft af­ter scor­ing 58 goals in 61 games for ma­jor ju­nior’s Sar­nia Sting in the 2007-08 sea­son. In five full NHL sea­sons he has scored 40 goals three times and had 29 in the 48-game, lock­out-short­ened sea­son of 2012-13. When he suf­fered a bro­ken leg in the 2013-14 sea­son, he had 25 goals in just 37 games.

Cham­bers’ take: Stamkos, 25, has a $5.5 mil­lion salary this sea­son with a $7.5 mil­lion cap hit, which is the an­nual av­er­age of his five-year, $37.5 mil­lion con­tract. He is the NHL’s low­est­paid mega-star but soon will join Chicago Black­hawks stars Jonathan Toews and Pa­trick Kane in the league’s $10 mil­lion cap-hit club.

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