Lightning Are Reaping the Resurgence of Stamkos

Despite his injuries, Steven Stamkos is one of the best goalscorers in the league today. When healthy, his goalscoring is on the elite level of Alex Ovechkin, Auston Matthews, and David Pastrňák.

The Markham, ON-born superstar is playing in his 13th NHL season with the Tampa Bay Lightning, and is coming off an injury sustained during the Stanley Cup Final. Although he has had a few injuries this season, including being on the NHL COVID-19 protocol list, he is playing as if he never left.

Steven Stamkos Tampa Bay Lightning
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Lightning captain is currently in the fifth year of his eight-year, $68 million contract. Stamkos is earning an annual average salary (AAV) of $8.5 million per year.

Stamkos has been living up to his contract. Ever since he signed the deal in 2016-17, he has produced at a pace that is above a point per game. In the past five years, he has missed games in every season except for 2018-19, when he played a full 82 games and finished top five in goals with 45. That season, he also had a career-high in points with 98, where he finished top 10 in the NHL. Simply incredible.

Stamkos’ Contribution to the Best Team in the NHL

The Lightning are first in the league right now, and Stamkos has played a huge part in that success.

With the absence of the former Hart Trophy winner Nikita Kucherov, Stamkos now plays on the first line with Brayden Point and Alex Killorn. Before the game on Saturday, March 20, against the Chicago Blackhawks, Stamkos has been playing on a line with Killorn and Yanni Gourde. Afterward, he has played with Anthony Cirelli and Point, who replaced Gourde. Killorn has been his only consistent linemate.

Steven Stamkos (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Stamkos is second on the Lightning in points, behind Conn Smythe winner Victor Hedman. Hedman has also played two more games while having two more points. Stamkos also leads the Lightning in goals, power-play goals, and he is in the top five in assists.

Compared to the rest of the league, Stamkos is 11th in goals ahead of snipers such as Brock Boeser and Mark Scheifele with 16 goals. He is having his best season in the faceoff dot with a career-high win percentage of 57.34 percent. Stamkos is also shooting at an incredible rate, with a career-high shooting percentage of 20.5 percent.

Last Tuesday night (March 23) against the Dallas Stars, Stamkos scored the tying goal on the power play. Gourde then scored the game-winning goal for a 2-1 victory.

Stamkos’ Advanced Stats

Stamkos’ analytics are acceptable for someone who is returning from injury. He has a goals above replacement (GAR) of 4.9, wins above replacement (WAR) of 0.9, and standing points above replacement (SPAR) of 1.6. The stats I mentioned all summarize a player’s total contributions to their team, and measure how much better they perform compared to a replacement-level player.

Steven Stamkos RAPM Chart
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning, RAPM Chart (Evolving Hockey)

In this chart, you can see that Stamkos plays well on both ends of the ice.

Goals for per 60 (GF/60) determines how much a player increases their team’s scoring rate while they are on the ice. Expected goals for per 60 (xGF/60) calculates how much a player is expected to increase their team’s scoring rate. Corsi for per 60 (CF/60) is the number of shot attempts a player takes while they are on the ice. Expected goals against per 60 (xGA/60) determine how many goals a player is expected to give up based on their play. Last but not least, Corsi against per 60 (CA/60) shows the number of shot attempts against a player when they are on the ice.

Stamkos’ Stanley Cup Run

During the Lightning’s 2020 Stanley Cup run, Stamkos faced a lot of injuries and went through a lot of hardships. His last game that season was a 4-3 loss against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

He was not on the ice during the round robins and the first three rounds of the playoffs. In fact, he only managed to play for one game (Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final) in the entire playoffs. He played a total of five shifts in 2:47, before getting injured, but he didn’t take the opportunity for granted.

Using his speed, Stamkos snuck past Dallas Stars’ Esa Lindell and found the top left corner on Anton Khudobin to score the second goal of the night for the Lightning. He had one goal on one shot before he left the game. The final score ended up being a 5-2 win for the Tampa Bay Lightning, so his goal was the tying goal before Hedman scored the game-winning goal.

Eventually, the Lightning ended up winning the series in six games, and Stamkos hoisted the Stanley Cup for the first time in his career.

Steven Stamkos Tampa Bay Lightning 2020 Stanley Cup
Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning hoists the 2020 Stanley Cup. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The former first-overall pick has dealt with a lot of injuries in his career, but he is very skilled and will not slow down anytime soon.

(All Data Via Evolving-Hockey)

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