The Tampa Bay Lightning fell to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night with three of their regular centres out of the lineup, not including


Stamkos, who underwent meniscus surgery on Nov. 16, has been skating with the Lightning for close to a month, but his return appears far from imminent.

TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie reports the sense among sources is Stamkos is highly, highly unlikely to return for any of the Lightning’s remaining 12 games. McKenzie, however, adds a postseason return has not been ruled out, should the Lightning make the playoffs.

Stamkos was given a four-to-six month timetable for recovery from his knee surgery and Thursday marked the four-month mark.