Steven Stamkos, F, Tampa Bay Lightning
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.