In his first few seasons in the NHL, Tampa Bay Lightning sniper Steven Stamkos was a raw goal scorer with defensive deficiencies not unlike most young players. The goal scoring has not ceased, but the sloppy decision making with the puck that plagued a younger Stammer, is becoming a thing of the past. Markham’s finest hockey product is maturing into a complete package on the ice.
The twenty-three year old is already in his 6th NHL season. He has clinically buried 221 goals throughout his young career, ranking him 10th all time in goals per game, behind names like Bossy, Gretzky, Lemieux and both Brett and Bobby Hull. More impressive are the names he ranks ahead of in GPG: Sidney Crosby, Guy Lafleur, Steve Yzerman and Joe Sakic. Goals per game stats courtesy of Quant Hockey dot com.
While scoring goals is greatly important, winning trumps all. Stamkos is earning his stripes this season as a more complete player in his club’s quest to make the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 2011. In an article posted on the official Lightning team website, Stamkos told Bolts’ beat reporter:
“When you first come into the league you’re known as a goal scorer and that’s how you look at yourself and try to play. I think I’m an all-round better player now. My focus heading into games is not all about producing offensively; It’s about playing the right way.”
Stamkos is 2nd in NHL points with 22 – only 1-point behind Sidney Crosby who has played an extra game. The significance of Stammer’s point totals is substantial. To become a more complete two-way player without sacrificing offence is not easily done. But with a shot like he has, Steven Stamkos will score goals regardless. When you factor in his passion for the game, relentless work ethic, explosive speed, and goal scorer’s knack, anything less than top 5 in scoring would be a big surprise.