Steven Stamkos is inching closer to 50 goals on the season, a milestone only achieved by the best in the game.
With his 48, he’ll re-capture the distinction first bestowed upon Maurice “The Rocket” Richard in 1945. This feat has been reached 189 times.
Here’s the past plus-50 goals in past years:
2005-06: Jonathan Cheechoo; San Jose Sharks (56), Jarmoir Jagr; New York Rangers (54); Alexander Ovechkin Washington Capials (52); Ilya Kovalchuk, Atlanta Thrashers (52); Dany Heatley, Ottawa Senators (50).
2006-07: Vincent Lecavalier, Tampa Bay Lightning (52); Dany Heatley, Ottawa Senators (50).
2007-08: Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals (65); Ilya Kovalchuk, Atlanta Thrashers (52); Jarome Iginla (50).
2008-09: Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals (56).
2009-10: Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins (51); Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning (51); Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals (50).
2010-11: Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks (50).
* Note: Stamkos was second in goals last season with 45.
With the information we have, Stamkos can arguably be the NHL’s emerging franchise player, finally closing the book on a two-way argument made for Ovechkin and Crosby. After the 2010 season, the two were jostling for position in the battle for the unofficial distinction among fans. Stamkos, entering the league three years after Crosby and Ovechkin, has given chase.
A year later when Crosby, Ovechkin and Stamkos each tallied 50-plus, Ovechkin’s decline came with Washington’s new offensive structuring, and Crosby became victim to the inevitable concussion.
Ovechkin fell to 32 goals last season and is only up to 26 so far this year — barely half as much as Stamkos. Meanwhile, it’s arguable that Crosby will never be the same after his repeated stints off the ice due to concussion symptoms.
It’s looking like Stamkos will be a lone 50-plus scorer this season in the NHL. Will he derail Crosby as Canada’s hockey poster boy? And, if the Tampa Bay Lightning – only four points out of a playoff spot — can sneak in for post season action, the Stamkos stock can only improve.
Perhaps Ovechkin can take a lesson or two from Stamkos, who is always out to change his scoring technique:
“When you’ve played in the league for a while, people pick up on things, they pick up on where you score from, what you like to do when you’re in the offensive zone, so you have to make adjustments and be able to adapt to your surroundings,” Stamkos said. “It was something that I wanted to adjust. As you mature throughout your career, you’ll always keep finding new ways to get opportunities.”
Not bad for a 22-year-old. Will you accept him as the next NHL leader?