What did the Lightning lose when they lost Steven Stamkos?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

A statistical breakdown of the hole Stamkos leaves behind.

It's impossible to replace Steven Stamkos. Everyone knows that, but the team nonetheless has to try. It's going to have to be done piecemeal, maybe a trade, maybe bringing up a Syracuse Crunch player (say, J.T. Brown, for instance) to take some of his ice time, but certainly getting more production out of the players that are already on the roster.

What they're losing:

at 5v5 for every 60 minutes Stamkos was on the ice:

Shots/60

8.3

Goals/60

2.18

Shot attempts/60

14.3

Penalties drawn/60

1.5

Time on Ice per game

EV

15.0

PP

3.5

SH

1.1

The easiest thing to replace will be time on ice. Some players already on the roster will get more time, someone from the Crunch could get called up. The shots are going to be hard to replace. Guys are going to have to figure out how to open up the kinds of space that Stamkos could, and no rookie's going to get the kind of respect that Stamkos got on the ice. The Lightning were in need of more shots in the first place. Losing the guy who generated more shots than any other forward is an enormous blow.

After looking at HockeyAnalysis.com's WOWY (With Or Without You) breakdown for Stamkos, I figured out the difference that Stamkos has made for his teammates in terms of their on-ice statistics (5v5 Close Zone Start Adjusted).

In order of how much time each player has played with Stamkos:

Player

GF20

GA20

GF%

CF20

CA20

CF%

Martin St. Louis

1.802

1.147

61.1

6.03

-4.47

15.3

Ryan Malone

-0.4

0.266

-20

-8.48

7.18

-21.9

Matt Carle

1.41

0.32

21.4

2.77

-2.99

7.8

Victor Hedman

1.515

0.745

12.5

-1.9

5.14

-10.6

Radko Gudas

1.481

0.839

-4.7

0.7

-0.18

1.1

Sami Salo

0.687

0.264

10

-1.83

7.67

-15.5

Alex Killorn

1.345

1.067

-2.9

6.92

2.28

6.8

Eric Brewer

0.752

0.752

0

2.88

5.09

-3.5

Andrej Sustr

1.787

0.2

66.7

0.89

-5.13

12.7

Mark Barberio

0.962

1.531

-50

7.59

14.28

-6.8

Teddy Purcell

1.725

-0.202

25

4.33

-6.94

19.2

Ondrej Palat

-0.821

-0.821

-50

-4.35

7.73

-16

Nate Thompson

10.537

-0.287

33.3

6.44

1.88

5.8

Richard Panik

-0.433

4.907

-40

17.1

11.77

4.2

B.J. Crombeen

-0.326

-0.326

-50

3.48

-3.97

12.1

Pierre-Cedric Labrie

0

5.711

0

-0.96

-9.91

21.2

Valtteri Filppula

7.175

-0.325

50

5.29

35.46

-20.2

Keith Aulie

0

-1.494

0

12.64

-8.97

40

Brett Connolly

-0.614

-1.228

-33.3

17.86

-19.03

49.2

Tyler Johnson

-1.005

170.625

-55.6

-18.1

156.15

-54.2

(Tyler Johnson has seven seconds of ice time with Stamkos, but there must have been a goal against while they were both on, which is why his numbers look so weird here. Brett Connolly has 32 seconds, which is about one shift, so I'm not putting too much stock into that, either.)

Everyone from Sustr upwards has at least 20 minutes at 5v5 this season with Stamkos.

Everyone's Goals For goes up when Stamkos plays. However, everyone's Goals Against has gone up, too. A positive CF (Corsi For) result means the player saw more shot attempts for the Lightning when they played with Stamkos than when they played without Stamkos (offensive boost). Players who have a negative CA20 saw fewer shots attempts go against the Lightning with Stamkos than they did without him (defensive boost). A positive CF% saw a better balance in possession with Stamkos than without him.

Players who were playing regularly with Stamkos and were benefiting most from his play were Marty St. Louis and Matt Carle. Almost all the defensemen had better possession numbers without Stamkos than with him. Ryan Malone played distinctly worse on Stamkos's line than with other players. Teddy Purcell has only 8:35 with Stamkos, so there's a sample size issue, but Stamkos did give him a boost. Ondrej Palat's 5:45 gives a similar sample size challenge, but he played worse with Stamkos than without him.

On the whole, Stamkos's play helped most of his teammates in both goal and shot generation but not in goal or shot prevention. That's a product partly of the kind of things he had the confidence to do offensively. In the end, I don't have a happy answer for how the Lightning will adjust to this loss. The team was already having some difficulty generating shots, and on the face of things, Steven Stamkos was one of the main reasons they were able to generate shots in the first place.

I don't think these numbers show that the team's overall possession percentage will fall drastically without Stamkos, though they might without Sami Salo, who was also injured in that game. (If Salo's out for any length of time, this could be a pretty bad stretch.) I do expect goal scoring to come to earth pretty hard here. Without the kind of shooting that Stamkos provided and his 24.8% scoring rate, the goals are going to be much harder to come by. I simply think that the Lightning are going to miss Stamkos's ability to draw opponents' attention and make opportunities, and I don't think a rookie can be expected to make much difference there.

That's not to say that it won't happen. Just that probability doesn't favor it. I wish I could be as positive as others are, but to be honest, I foresaw more regression coming the Lightning's way even before this happened. I even had a whole post ready to go on the subject just before this game. This is going to be a very tough haul, and it will hinge almost exclusively on those unquantifiable things that go beyond the numbers. If the Lightning pull this off, it will not be due to skill and talent, but due to will and character and sheer good luck. And those are all fickle mistresses.

Meanwhile, I'm just so very sad.

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