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Is Stamkos the New Face of the NHL?

That’s the question that The Globe and Mail asks Roy MacGregor, Sean Gordon and Eric Duhatschek today, with varied responses.

More specifically:

Today we turn our attention to Tampa Bay, where Lightning forward Steven Stamkos has 19 goals in 19 games and leads the NHL scoring with 34 points. His strong start comes on the heels of a 51-goal breakout season that saw him share the Rocket Richard Trophy with Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

We asked our writers: Is it time to put Stamkos up with Crosby and Alex Ovechkin as the best players in the NHL?

My opinion, though unsolicited for this particular informal poll, is an unwavering

YES

. Having seen Stamkos transform, first-hand, in his two and less-than-a-fourth seasons in the NHL from a kid with shaken confidence to the game’s most dynamic goal-scorer who seems to improve on a daily basis that we’re seeing now is more than enough to convince me of as much.

And, believe it or not, Stamkos indeed does have - wait for it - some Gretzky in him, on and off the ice, as Duhatschek so wisely observes.

I’m sold. Seems at least one-and-a-half of the three writers polled here are too.

Let the debate begin…

JJ

Filed in: NHL Teams, Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL Talk, NHL Media, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: alex+ovechkin, sidney+crosby, steven+stamkos, wayne+gretzky

Comments

Navarath's avatar

Absolutely.  I’ve been waiting for a change from overhyped Crosby.

Posted by Navarath on 11/19/10 at 03:59 PM ET

Moq's avatar

There’s no doubt in my mind that Stamkos has shown that he deserves to be mentioned among the absolute best in the NHL. Not as multi-talented as Crosby, or as electric as Ovechkin, but he is a lethal scorer still under development.

In my mind, though, there are more than two or three fantastic players in the league. However, I understand that it’s cumbersome with twenty faces of the league. Limiting that number; Crosby, Ovechkin, and Stamkos offers a nice blend of profiles.

Posted by Moq from Denmark on 11/19/10 at 04:21 PM ET

Avatar

He is a fantastic scorer.  I still have no idea why people leave him alone on the wing on the powerplay.  You don’t even need to watch tape to know he is setting up there waiting for a one-timer.

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 11/19/10 at 04:28 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

Crosby is better in the dirty areas of the offensive zone. Ovechkin is better on the rush. But Stamkos has shown he can score from anywhere at any time. His wrist shot is absurdly good.

I think he’s a better overall player than Ovechkin, by a hair. As much as Crosby has been jammed down our throats, I think it’s fair to say Crosby is a better overall player than Stamkos, by a tiny bit.

Either Stamkos has to blow Crosby out of the water with his goal scoring, or he has to become a bit better play-maker to inch up to that level.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 11/19/10 at 04:30 PM ET

Jon Jordan's avatar

He is a fantastic scorer.  I still have no idea why people leave him alone on the wing on the powerplay.  You don’t even need to watch tape to know he is setting up there waiting for a one-timer.

Have another look some time. Sure, he’s left open (big mistake) from time to time but on several occasions this year, Stamkos has shown how shifty he can be and has employed some serious creativity to get open.

Case in point, against Toronto, though the Leafs defender was tasked with basically shadowing him, he feigned a change in approach, hung low (below the goalline low) and then, just when the defender thought he had lulled Stamkos into where he wanted him to be, he jumped out right back to his favorite spot near the top of the circle and got the trademark one-timer off just like that for a goal.

He’s crafty…

JJ

Posted by Jon Jordan from Tampa, FL on 11/19/10 at 04:34 PM ET

Link_Gaetz's avatar

I know Stamkos is world-class, obviously. But I have watched the Lightning play 3 times this season, and he has looked invisible each game…...except on the PP. All 3 times, he did nothing even strength, but then as soon as the Lightning were up a man BOOM. Top shelf from Stamkos.

He is impressive, but if the Lightning’s PP takes a dip….or St Louis gets injured…I think we’ll get a better idea.

Posted by Link_Gaetz on 11/19/10 at 04:44 PM ET

Jon Jordan's avatar

...if the Lightning’s PP takes a dip….or St Louis gets injured…I think we’ll get a better idea.

This is fair and, perhaps we’ll see, although I have faith that he would still fire at a pretty consistent clip without Marty. I see him as the type of player that makes those around him better and I think MSL’s skill at doing just that might overshadow 91’s a bit.

JJ

Posted by Jon Jordan from Tampa, FL on 11/19/10 at 04:56 PM ET

Moq's avatar

...or St Louis gets injured.

That’s a good point. I think it’s fair to say that St. Louis was very instrumental in the success of LeCavalier and repeats it with Stamkos. Undersized and underestimated.

However, in a league where goals are not that easy to come by, an excellent scorer deserves praise. Ovechkin doesn’t exactly play with rubble either. Crosby is a different story, but as everyone knows, he’s fantastic. wink

Stamkos has come a long way in a short time, and with plenty of years to develop further.

Posted by Moq from Denmark on 11/19/10 at 05:17 PM ET

Avatar

Posted by Link_Gaetz on 11/19/10 at 01:44 PM ET

I’ve observed the same thing through three or four random games. Much like the Sedins’ if they don’t have the puck or are fighting it a bit, they are kinda just bodies skating around (slowly) out there.

He’s going to evolve a lot, especially with guys like Yzerman & Boucher leading the way. More on the Crosby career arc than the Ovechkin I think.

Posted by NathanBC on 11/19/10 at 05:42 PM ET

redxblack's avatar

I can’t not think he’ll get better with Yzerman as GM. Steve’s game changed a lot over time (thanks Scotty!), and I think Stamkos will as well. He’ll get more defensive and possibly make a run at leading the league in takeaways. He has the finesse, he just needs to fill out his game. As a raw scoring talent, he’s amazing.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 11/19/10 at 05:51 PM ET

Lindas1st's avatar

To me the story here is St.Louis, who’s been the ignitor of Tampa’s offense for the most part. Stamkos doesn’t generate a lot of offense as much as he finishes. Which btw, he’s doing better than anybody right now.
To me Stamkos is more of a high scoring right winger (i.e. Brett Hull) as opposed to an elite centerman.  I agree with Nathan his board play isn’t that good and he is also not very good on draws.

Posted by Lindas1st from New England on 11/19/10 at 08:03 PM ET

Primis's avatar

Still too early to annoint Stamkos as Elite.  He hasn’t produced enough yet still.  And he’s trapped in a market where he won’t get the pub Crosby and Ovie do.

If he puts up 50 or 60 this year though, by all means then yes put him up there.

Posted by Primis on 11/20/10 at 12:24 AM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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