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Lightning for life? Stamkos explains why he re-signed with Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay Lightning Practice

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 15: Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning takes a break during a off-day practice session prior to Game Two of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 15, 2016 at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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After a brief free agent flirtation and at least a year of conjecture from the general Toronto area, Steven Stamkos decided to stick with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

He raised some eyebrows in doing so for what many believed to be the Bolts’ standing offer: an eight-year deal with a relatively reasonable $8.5 million cap hit ($68 million overall).

People - especially fans of jilted teams - may wonder why.

The official reason from Stamkos is that he’s hoping to stick with the Lightning for the duration of his career.

“I am excited to move forward with the Lightning today for the next eight years,” Stamkos said. “It’s not often that a player gets the chance to spend his career in one organization and I am hopeful that this agreement sets me on that path with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Most importantly, I look forward to working with my teammates, coaches and our management in our pursuit of winning a Stanley Cup.”

In case you’re wondering, the timing was surprising to his team, too:

He gets a nice chunk of money up front:

While it’s possible that Stamkos might not lose much money in choosing the Lightning over what would likely be a bigger cap hit with a team like the Toronto Maple Leafs:

Ah, teams without state taxes. You’d think NHL teams could leverage that advantage more often?

Now, it’s plausible that Stamkos would rake in a lot of extra cash in endorsement deals if he signed with the Leafs, but it’s difficult to argue with his decision. The money difference seems fairly insignificant, while Stamkos enjoys the comfort of a familiar situation on a team seemingly set up to contend for some time.

Re-signing Stamkos ranks as a huge step toward reaching that “ultimate goal.”

Lightning GM Steve Yzerman has plenty of work to do in providing Stamkos with a quality supporting cast, but that’s a better problem to have than trying to replace one of the NHL’s elite snipers.