Back in the 2005-06 season, the National Hockey League had two superstars enter its league: Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.
While we were all amazed about Crosby’s ability to make places and produce, we were all excited to have a goal-scoring machine like Ovechkin. Ovechkin’s goal totals in his first five seasons were quite astounding as he had seasons of 52, 46, 65, 56 and 50 goals.
Unfortunately, Ovechkin’s goal-scoring prowess has come to somewhat of a stop. However, another NHLer has taken his place and has done so in fine fashion.
This player is Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Stamkos, 22, was the No.1 selection in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft; to this point, he has not disappointed.
In 309 career games, Stamkos has 167 goals and 146 assists for 313 points. He also has 60 power play goals, 24 game-winning goals and has taken 983 shots.
While all of these statistics are impressive, what he is doing this season might be even more impressive. While the Lightning will be without their starting netminder Mathieu Gaorn for a while and have to rely on Dwayne Roloson to win and steal some games, rest assured that Stamkos will be a key contributor.
In 66 games this season, Stamkos has 48 goals (1st), 82 points (1st), 10 game-winning goals (1st), 10 power play goals (9th), and has taken 235 shots (10th). He is the main reason why the Lightning are still alive in the Eastern Conference playoff chase.
Stamkos has also gotten high praise from players he plays against on a nightly basis. For example, on Friday night, the Lightning took on the Washington Capitals, and Capitals’ forward Jay Beagle who said the following regarding Stamkos prior to facing him on Thursday night:
“If I’m called on to play against him, it’s going to be a challenge. It’s going to be one that’s fun and one that I’ll be geared up for and ready to go,” Beagle said.
Beagle’s teammate and a former teammate of Stamkos at the 2008 World Junior Championships, also has come to admire Stamkos’s play.
“I think he’s upped his game to not just that superstar status, but that elite [status], like when [Alex Ovechkin] had 65 goals,” said Alzner, teammates with Stamkos at the 2008 World Junior Hockey Championships. “He’s just one of those guys, there’s a reason why he’s there. He’s hard to stop.”
Stamkos reached the 50-goal plateau in his sophomore season, followed by a 45-goal output last season. This year, if he continues at his current pace, Stamkos will flirt with 60 goals — something only Ovechkin has accomplished since the lockout.
With Ovechkin struggling to score like he used to, the league is lucky to have someone like Stamkos wowing the rest of the NHL and its fans with his goal-scoring prowess.
Patrick Hoffman is a veteran hockey writer/blogger based in Fairfield, Connecticut.
On top of his work for Kukla’s Korner, Patrick covers the NHL for the Red Light District Hockey Blog and also contributes to Sportsnet.ca.
Prior to writing for the above-mentioned outlets, Hoffman’s musings have been published on TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Spector’s Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com, here on NHL Home Ice from 2008 to 2009, as well as a slew of others.