The Tampa Bay Lightning are about to begin a hopeful Stanley Cup run, but they could be in danger of losing a key player this summer. Veteran Steven Stamkos is going to be an unrestricted free agent and there is a chance he may leave.

According to insiders Chris Johnston and Joe Smith, three teams are possible landing spots for the two-time Stanley Cup winner: The Anaheim Ducks, the Nashville Predators, and the rival Florida Panthers, via NHL Trade Rumors.

The Lightning may not be able to pay Stamkos what he's worth, despite a willingness to stay put. The 34-year-old is still a valuable piece though and continues to put up numbers.

Steven Stamkos still producing

Stamkos may be in his 16th season, but he's still a guy who can contribute on a consistent basis to any team. In 78 games in 2023-24, he has 40 goals and a total of 79 points, including 39 helpers. That's ridiculously impressive. If we take a look at the potential destinations, they all fit in their own way.

The Ducks are a young, rebuilding team that could use a veteran presence both on and off the ice like Stamkos to mentor the likes of Troy Terry and Trevor Zegras. They also have the cap space to sign him. The Predators have a couple of Stamkos' ex-teammates in Luke Schenn and Ryan McDonagh, which may be an attraction for Stamkos.

As for the Panthers, well, they're a foe of the Bolts so if he ended up strengthening their offense, Tampa fans would not be happy, to say the least. Ultimately though, Steven Stamkos deserves to get paid like the player he is. He's averaged more than a point per game in his career.

Back in September, Stamkos was vocal that he wasn't happy about the lack of contract talks with the Lightning:

“I've been disappointed in the lack of talking,” the center told reporters. “It was something that I expressed at the end of last year that I wanted to get something done before training camp started. There haven't been any conversations.”

Considering the lack of traction in discussions, it does feel likely Stamkos will try his luck in free agency. Stamkos is just finishing up the final season of an eight-year, $68 million deal. He'll be one of the most highly-coveted centers available. Stamkos has spent his entire career in Tampa after they took him as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft. Aside from the two Cups, he's also a two-time Maurice Richard Trophy winner while making seven All-Star appearances.

The Bolts will have it tough in the first round of the playoffs as they're set to face the Panthers. Stamkos will need to be at his absolute best if Tampa is going to have any shot at pulling off the upset. The Canadian is firing on all cylinders right now, scoring 10 goals in his last eight games. If this is his last hoorah with the Lightning, it would be a storybook ending to lift another Stanley Cup.