Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Although the Tampa Bay Lightning are struggling to make the 2009-10 NHL playoffs, if they don't get there, it won't be because of young centerman Steven Stamkos.
In his second year with the "big club," Stamkos is putting up numbers well beyond preseason expectations. Coming off a solid rookie campaign of 23 goals and 23 assists, the centerman had a preseason ADP (Average Draft Position) of 89, meaning he was an eighth-round selection in a basic 12-team league.
But to date, Stamkos has already posted career highs in goals (33), assists (33), PPP (29) and shots (194). His 66 points ranks him eighth in the league and he is just 10 points behind superstar Sidney Crosby for third place overall. He also has a +4 rating on a team that has given up 18 more goals than it has scored.
Stamkos was the No.1 pick of the draft in 2008 at age 18 and comparisons to 2007 No.1 pick Patrick Kane, Alex Ovechkin (2004 No.1) and Crosby (2005 No.1) were immediate.
"The media's going to put that pressure on myself, Stamkos said after the draft. "They're going to try to compare me to those players, with regards to their stats and how they played at such a young age. I think I'm ready for that. It's kind of expected with where I got drafted."
Apparently, Stamkos was ready and is coming along very quickly. He is currently on an 11-game scoring streak which includes seven goals and 11 assists. The Lightning are 7-4 during that span.
You may not be talking about Stamkos in the same sentence as Crosby or Ovechkin yet, but that time will come...maybe as soon as next season.
|Stamkos vs. other No.1 selections
* - season not yet completed