NHL players win free agency and teams hope they didn't lose

2:26 a.m. EDT July 2, 2016

NHL free agency rarely includes the signing of stars.

Steven Stamkos was expected to be an exception this summer, cashing in on a sweepstakes for his services.

The Tampa Bay Lightning, though, didn’t let him to get the market by re-signing him earlier in the week.

Milan Lucic and Kyle Okposo, two of the NHL’s top free agents, can thank Stamkos for staying in the Sunshine State.

The 28-year-old wingers each were signed to $42 million, seven-year contracts Friday — the opening day of free agency — even though neither is a proven or prolific scorer.

Both have been good, not great, players in the league.

The Edmonton Oilers and Buffalo Sabres are not in a position to be picky.

Coming off a string of losing seasons, the teams had enough salary cap space to make a splash.

Okposo, coming off a 22-goal year with the New York Islanders, moved upstate to join the Sabres, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2011 or finished higher than seventh in their division in three years.

“What sold me was first and foremost, I’ve been saying it all day, is the chance to win the Stanley Cup,” he insisted. “I think we have a lot of…

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