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Tampa Bay Lightning Superstar on Goal-Scoring Tear to Close Season

Steven Stamkos Contract

Steven Stamkos is on a goal-scoring heater to close the 2023-24 regular season. The Tampa Bay Lightning Captain has nine goals and two assists for 11 points in his last six contests. After Steven Stamkos had a rocky start to his contract year, rumours of him leaving Tampa Bay circled the league.

However, with the resurgence of Stamkos and the entire Lightning roster, the 34-year-old is likely to stay put in Tampa Bay for the rest of his NHL career. The 2008 first-overall selection now has 39 goals and 38 assists for 77 points in 76 games. How bad did Stamkos start the season, and how have things changed heading into the playoffs?

Steven Stamkos Remains Red Hot Heading Into 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs

While the playoffs were doubtful for Stamkos and the Lightning to start the season, the Bolts turned the tide heading into the All-Star Weekend. Nikita Kucherov performed all season long, but the supporting superstars like Brayden Point and Stamkos struggled. Luckily, the rest of the crew is red hot at the right time, just weeks before the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Stamkos earned the labels “power play merchant” and “5v5 liability” all over social media in the Fall. After all, his plus-minus rating of -20 is a career-worst. From October 10th to January 15th, Stamkos surrendered 3.06 expected goals against per hour (3.06 xGA/60), 42nd worst amongst 401 forwards with over 200 minutes of ice time. Furthermore, Stamos controlled 44.88% of the expected goal share (44.88 xGF%), good enough for 321st out of 401 forwards. With that, how did Stamkos improve his game to close the season?

Second-Half Improvements

Stamkos turned his entire game around in 2024. Since January 15th, the Lightning have looked like a contending team. Moreover, Stamkos allows just 2.3 expected goals against per 60 at 5v5 (2.3 xGA/60) since that date, leaps and bounds better compared to the first half of the season. Stammer ranks in the top 28% of defensive impact amongst forwards since January 15th. After being bottom 50 defensively amongst forwards to start the year, Stamkos made adjustments to his game. In addition, Stamkos is above a 50% expected goals share since this date (50.80 xGF%).

Stamkos also started to rifle the puck on net more to improve his 5v5 offensive game. Using the dates from earlier, Stamkos recorded 6.15 shots per hour in the first half of the season at 5v5. On the other hand, 7.93 shots per 60 to close the season, almost two shots more at an hourly rate. Plus, Stamkos takes more opportunities on the rush to get involved offensively. How will Stamkos impact the Lightning come playoff time, and how does this improvement affect his next deal?

The Captain’s Playoff Role

Outside of his on-ice contributions, Stamkos is vital for his leadership in the locker room. The veteran embodies the hockey culture established in Tampa Bay. Since his arrival, Stamkos has impacted the city of Tampa. The Lightning must lean on Stamkos to drive the second line against tough opponents in the playoffs. He will be critical to special teams with his lethal one-timer. We would not be shocked to see the Lightning upset a top contender in the Eastern Conference following their recent performance.

What This Means For a Steven Stamkos Extension

With his improved play, Stamkos is due to earn similar pay compared to his previous deal. Before the season, we looked at comparable contracts to form a potential extension for Stamkos. Somewhere around the seven million dollar annual average for three seasons seems more than reasonable for his services. A 40-goal guy with his improved defensive play is worthy of this paycheque. On top of this, Steven Stamkos’s success and tenure with the Lightning as the captain will affect his next contract. 

Raw stats via NaturalStatTrick & EvolvingHockey

Main Photo Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports


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