The clock struck high noon Friday, leading to a showdown between the Tampa Bay Lightning and star center Steven Stamkos.
As of noon, the official start of NHL free agency, Stamkos remained unsigned and became a restricted free agent eligible to sign an offer sheet from any team willing to formally submit a proposal.
Should that scenario take place, Tampa Bay would have seven days to mull over the contract and decide either to match the offer or let Stamkos sign with another team. If Stamkos signs with another team, the Lightning will receive compensation from that team in the form four first round draft picks.
Stamkos, who leads the league with 96 goals over the past two seasons, is coming out of an entry level contract that paid a base salary of $850,000 and included several incentive bonuses.
It is believed Stamkos could land a contract worth around $8 million per year, but if an offer sheet is submitted it could for much more. The maximum allowable contract is $12.86 million per year, or 20 percent of the salary cap.