Star center Steven Stamkos knew all along he'd be staying with the Lightning and said his new long-term deal — a five-year, $37.5 million pact officially announced Tuesday — was pretty much wrapped up a couple of weeks ago.

But considering Stamkos, 21, is in his hockey-crazed hometown of Toronto for the summer, it was tough not to tune out all the wild, unfounded rumors spreading of the restricted free agent landing somewhere else. Stamkos, one of the game's top players, said he laughed out loud at the craziest, a text message from a friend who had a digitally enhanced photo of Stamkos' face on the body of Toronto center Phil Kessel, asking if he was signing with the Leafs.

"It was comical at first, got a little annoying towards the end," Stamkos said of the rumors. "For me, it was about trying to get a deal done in Tampa. Because ultimately, that was where I wanted to stay. I never thought about looking anywhere else."

That's why, even though Stamkos and general manager Steve Yzerman acknowledged that negotiations took longer than people expected, the All-Star said he "never lost sleep over it." And Yzerman never doubted he'd be able to pencil in Stamkos into his lineup this fall.

The Lightning locked up its franchise player at a cap hit of $7.5 million a season, with the contract breaking down to $8 million in each of the first four years and $5.5 million the final season, when he has a no-move clause kick in.

Stamkos, who has led the league with 96 goals the past two seasons and helped take Tampa Bay to within one game of the Stanley Cup final this past season, said the five years was comfortable for both sides. And he gladly traded in his first year of unrestricted free agency for several chances to hoist the Stanley Cup.

"It keeps you motivated and keeps you wanting more," Stamkos said.

He wasn't aware of any offer sheets from other teams since free agency started July 1, and agent Mark Guy said that "wasn't something ever explored." Yzerman said the Lightning was prepared in case it did happen, knowing how "extremely important" Stamkos was as "part of the foundation of the franchise."