01 April 2009
So the marketing of Steven Stamkos was a lot of pressure on our No. 1 draft pick. But nearing the end of the season, he's got 20 goals and is poised to tie Brad Richards' rookie season. Not so bad from the 19 year old.
Obviously, the Lightning marketing team hoped his career would have started off with more of a bang, especially with the amount of hype they created over Stamkos. The Seen Stamkos website is still up. But after watching the games in Prague, and waiting for the impact moment of our little draft pick, we were a little disappointed. The impact moment didn't come for a long time, and first one was not a goal, but rather an assist. The coaching fiasco from the Mullet did not help the his learning either.
Now 19, he's playing with confidence. You can see that he's making quicker decisions on the ice, rather than looking St. Louis to help direct the play and his shot has definitely gotten stronger.
I've often thought that in a few years from now we may look back on his first year as say that in retrospect it was good for his career. How am I reasoning this? Some rookies come to the NHL and have a great season, and the media goes crazy. Then a season of not so hot scoring or mediocre play and suddenly, and not so nice media attention, and they are questioning their skill level. Stamkos had all of the media from the get go. He dealt with the pressure of expectation, and the let down of not being able achieve the number of goals they were expecting of him. He battled through that, and quietly starting to rack up points.
If you asked me a 2 months ago about his rookie season and the Calder, the thought would not even cross my mind. If he had only played this great all year, he would have gotten a nomination.
It's hard with young players who start so early in the league right now, playing in the NHL at younger age then I really think they should. A few years in the minors would help the progress of the players, but with the salary cap, owners want to get all they can out of their low cost players. So after a rough 1st half and being a healthy scratch a few times for his "off ice training", it seems to have made him a better player.
Since the all-star break, he scored 13 goals in 28 games, and is now being considered to play for Team Canada IIHF in Switzerland along with Doughty and Schenn.
So will he match or break Richards' rookie mark? With 5 games left in the season, I'd say he's got a good chance of setting a new mark. Either way, I'm excited to see him play next season.