When thinking about the most dynamic goal-scorers in the NHL, some of the names mentioned would be Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Alexander Ovechkin. One of the best, Steven Stamkos, often falls by the wayside for whatever reason. Maybe it’s because the Lightning struggled last year, or because he’s considered to be playing in a “weak” division by many NHL analysts.
What can’t be ignored, is the fact that Stamkos has scored 105 goals over the past two seasons, more than any other player in the NHL, including a 60 goal season last year which was tops in the league. In the 2010-11 season, Stamkos finished second in the league in goals with 45, trailing only Anaheim’s Corey Perry, who netted 50 goals.
At 22 years of age, I’m ready to proclaim Stamkos as the purest goal-scorer in the league. Some may protest with Crosby, Ovechkin or Malkin. However, Crosby is more of a play maker and his history of injuries doesn’t help his case. I also see Malkin as more of a play maker and a point machine, but not necessarily the top goal-scorer in the league. For a number of years, Ovechkin was labeled as the top goal-scorer in the game, but back-to-back campaigns of less than 40 goals has caused fans and analysts to seriously question that.
The bottom line is that Stamkos may have a quicker release and a flat out better knack for scoring goals than anyone else in the league. Stamkos’ 2011-12 effort of scoring 10 more goals than anyone else in the NHL, really set him apart from other top players, in my mind.
Stamkos isn’t just a goal scorer, he’s a gritty competitor. He proved a great deal to me during the 2011 playoffs. In game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Bruins, Stamkos took a slap shot to the face, breaking his nose, allowing commentators to presume that his night was over. Stamkos had other ideas. Any questions about Stamkos’ toughness were quickly shot down when he returned shortly after shattering his nose. Although the Lightning lost that game, I think Stamkos proved that he’s not just a goal scorer, but a fierce competitor as well.
If you haven’t seen this guy play because he doesn’t play in a “big hockey market,” put some time aside to tune in to one of his games.
Not only has he proven himself as arguably the top goal-scorer in the NHL, but he may also have one of the biggest hearts.
Follow me on Twitter: Matt_Metcalf
Currently covering all things that is the Tampa Bay Lightning for The Hockey Writers. Follow him on Twitter: @Matt_Metcalf