Saturday, September 9, 2023

Lightning Preview: Steven Stamkos Jersey Card

(team and product links go to sponsored Amazon products, player links go to related pages on my blog, news links go to source pages)

This will likely be the preface to all of this year's Season Preview posts: Unlike in the distant past where I would post different texts on this collectibles blog and my personal one, I've been using a new format for the past couple of years, where I'll copy the same text on each one. As a father of two young kids, I just do not have enough time to write two separate posts per day on each blog. This year again, the entire scope of the analysis will take place first and the featured player will have a direct or perhaps indirect connection to what's written, below.

Caveats: At this point, despite training camp being set to start in a couple of weeks, several players haven't found a team yet and a few clubs are currently above the salary cap, which means there is much maneuvering left to do.

Key exits: Ross Colton (C), Alex Killorn (LW/C), Corey Perry (RW), Ian Cole (D), Patrick Maroon (LW), Pierre-Édouard Bellemare (D), and Brian Elliott (G).

Key Arrivals: Calvin De Haan (D), Conor Sheary (LW), Josh Archibald (RW), Luke Glendening (C), Logan Brown (LW), and Jonas Johansson (G).

Top prospects: Roman Schmidt (D, 20 years old, will require a year of AHL seasoning), Gage Goncalves (C, 22 years old, will jump straight to the second line in case of injury), Jack Thompson (D, 21 years old, will likely see a handful of games this season), Cole Koepke (LW, 25 years old, a spot in the bottom-six is his to lose), Gabriel Fortier (LW, 23 years old, will likely see 5-10 games this season), Isaac Howard (LW, 19 years old, will play another couple of seasons in the NCAA, Jack Finley (C, 21 years old, will require more AHL seasoning), and Niko Huuhtanen (RW, 20 years old, will play one more season in Finland before playing in the AHL to adapt to the North American ice surface).

No other team in the NHL has seen its depth depleted like the Tampa Bay Lightning in the past three to five years; the Bolts have lost the equivalent of three top-of-the-food-chain third lines in the past two offseasons and trade deadlines, in addition to a slew of first- and second-round draft picks. You would think that would close their contending window for a while, but their elite talent is so good that it will not affect them for the next two, three or perhaps even four seasons. After all, Nikita Kucherov is fresh off a 113-point season, Brayden Point got his usual 95 and even broke the 50-goal barrier, while Steven Stamkos added yet another point-per-game season to his Hall of Fame resume. Add to that a pair of #1 defenders in Mikhail Sergachev and Victor Hedman - don't get fooled by Hedman's dipping offensive stats, he's still dominant, he just surrendered some prime producing moments like first-line powerplay time to Sergachev, but they both played nearly 24 minutes a game and had simlar plus/minus and possession stats - and a top-five goalie who still has the best legs in the game in Andrei Vasilevskiy, and there is still an All-Star team's worth of players in the middle or end of their primes as the foundation.

What makes their odds look good:
The Toronto Maple Leafs may have equivalent star forwards, but no team in the East has the type of elite defensemen the Lightning has. With support from Brandon Hagel, Sheary, Nick Paul and Anthony Cirelli, there will be plenty of offense to win between 50 and 60 games this season.

Question marks: Can Tanner Jeannot step up and prove invaluable like Hagel did last year? At a cost of a first, a second and a third-round pick, or in context, a possible 2025 middle-six player, a 2026 top-six forward and a 50/50 shot at a depth player, he needs to be responsible for 2-3 wins this year and 3-5 wins next year as well as a few important playoff moments (say a couple of game-winning goals) to justify the cost of acquiring him from the Nashville Predators. Anti-vaxer Archibald lost a year and a half of play due to Covid travel restricioons while with the Edmonton Oilers and has lost a step, going from third-liner with occasional bumps to Connor McDavid's line to part-time fourth-liner. Should he make the team, he will probably love Florida.

Don't get me wrong: they are at the tail end of their contending window and are probably no match for the likes of the Dallas Stars or Vegas Golden Knights out West, but they can take anyone in the East (yes, including the equally depth-deprived Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins, as well as the inexperienced New Jersey Devils and coach cemetery New York Rangers), and there is no guarantee the Western finalist won't also be a team with its own issues. And this time around, for the first time in four years and just the second in six seasons, Tampa Bay has had a short postseason, getting eliminated in seven games in the first round. They are well-rested and (probably) hungry.

Second in the Atlantic Division.

As mentionned before, Steven Stamkos is carving himself quite the career, with little to no signs of slowing down at age 33. His days of leading the league in scoring (51 goals in 2009-10 and 60 goals in 2011-12) are probably a thing of the past in the era of McDavid, Auston Matthews, David Pastrnak and Leon Draisaitl - and with Alex Ovechkin still around - but his 84 points were still 23rd in the NHL last season, which would have put him first on 17 teams.

He's been around or over the point-per-game mark every year since 2016-17 after a dip in 2014-15 (43 goals and 72 points in 82 games) and 2015-16 (36 goals and 64 points in 77 games), two seasons in which his points totals may have dipped but during which he garnered some Lady Byng consideration - and even finished fourth in right wingers for the end of season All-Star Teams and finished 11th in Hart voting in 2014-15.

He has 515 goals, 541 assists and 1056 career points in 1003 regular-season games so far, and another 45 goals, 50 assists and 95 points in 123 playoff games. The only time his playoff shooting percentage was below 10% was in 2015-16, when he played just 11:55 in a single game and did not score on his two shots taken; however, his lone 2:47 of ice time in the 2019-20 is the stuff of legends, as he scored on his only shot, despite being on the ice for just three shifts in total. The goal gave the Bolts a 2-0 lead, paving the way to a 5-2 victory.

Here he is wearing Tampa's white (away) uniform, on card #6 from Upper Deck's 2014-15 SP Game-Used Edition set and Jersey Card sub-set:
It features a matching game-worn jersey swatch.

Internationally, he has won gold medals in 2008 (World Juniors) and 2016 (World Cup) and was a silver medalist at the 2009 World Championships playing for Team Canada. He has also represented his country in 2007 (U18s and Ivan Hlinka tournaments), as well as the 2010 and 2013 World Championships.

No comments:

Post a Comment