Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Locking Up Stamkos

I don't know about you, but it does seem safe to say that we'll be getting our fill of Stamkos-mania this season, with or without a full-time job. Let's face it though, is Steven Stamkos really going to sit on the sidelines for the Tampa Bay Lightning?

The revamped hockey team will announce the signing of their number one overall pick on Tuesday, as they have already started their prospect camp in Victoria and he's already donning the lightning bolt on his chest to rave reviews. Stamkos will be signing a 3-year deal at the rookie maximum of $875,000 for his base salary and it has been reported that he'll have performance bonuses that could total $8.55 million over those same three years. If all those bonuses are made, Stamkos could have a cap hit of $3.725 million to start his career.

The Lightning have done everything in their power this summer to make the playoffs after a dismal season, finishing last in the NHL standings. Additions of Radim Vrbata, Ryan Malone, Mark Recchi, Jussi Jokinen, Gary Roberts, Matt Carle, Olaf Kolzig all point to the playoff direction. But where is Stamkos going to fit in the line-up? Of course, they are going to make room for him, likely on the second line to start. It will certainly be fun speculating on which line combinations will finally come to fruition in Tampa or even speculating whether or not Stamkos will start down the middle or on the wing.

To be honest, I wasn't sold on Patrick Kane going into last season for the Blackhawks, raving on and on more about Jonathan Toews, which still doesn't sound too bad to me, but I was pleasantly surprised by Kane. At the same token, I haven't been completely sold on Stamkos, in the few opportunities I have had to see him on TV, so I am trying not to hold too many high expectations against the kid. Kane, finished with 21 goals and 72 points in 82 games last season with the Hawks, while Toews finished with 24 goals and 54 points in 64 games. The comparison to Stamkos will likely fall to Kane, as Kane has the same kind of drive, so I would forecast Stamkos to be in the 65-70 point range, if you are looking to gauge him for your hockey pool draft.

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