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Pending RFAs Stamkos, Doughty still unsigned as July 1 nears; offer sheets a possibility

The clock is ticking on the league’s highest-profile restricted free agents, but at least one of them is expected to be signed before the deadline of 12 noon Friday.

Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings still have not signed contract extensions, despite the fact their teams have had since July 1 of last year to sign them.

However, as of mid-day Thursday, it’s believed the Kings are much closer to signing Doughty than the Lightning are to signing Stamkos. There has been a lot of dialogue between Kings GM Dean Lombardi and Doughty’s agents at Newport Sports. It’s believed the Kings are offering a contract anywhere in the range of five to nine years with an average salary that would pay Doughty in excess of $6 million per season.

It’s believed the Lightning and Stamkos, despite Stamkos saying last week he was close to signing, still have an enormous amount of ground to make up in order to come to an agreement.

Lightning GM Steve Yzerman and Kings GM Lombardi risk exposing the players to offer sheets by waiting until the deadline. There has been much speculation that Stamkos will receive an offer sheet and one insider speculated that Stamkos could receive a one-year deal worth in excess of $12 million.

The team making the offer would then give up four first round picks if the Lightning chose to not match the salary. The signing team would then have the next year to either negotiate a long-term deal with Stamkos or take him to arbitration next summer, which would mean it would have him until at least 2013.

Under the terms of the CBA, one player can account for up to 20 percent of the upper limit of the salary cap. With the ceiling set at $64.3 million, that means a team could offer Stamkos a salary of up to $12.86 million.

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