Steven Stamkos may have finally found the Marty to his Vinny. Nikita Kucherov is only 24 years old and has only been in the NHL for half of the amount of time that Stamkos has, but these two have already shown the chemistry that we haven’t seen in a Lightning sweater in almost a decade.
Stamkos has already accomplished so much in his nine years in the league. Being a point per game player through almost 600 games is no easy feat, neither is being a two-time Rocket Richard winner.
And now, we have Kucherov.
Two players from the same team each getting over 100 points in the same season is really remarkable, but we've seen this chemistry in action before.
One of those historic times was with our very own Martin St. Louis(102 points) and Vincent Lecavalier(108 points) in the 2006-2007 season.
The closest we’ve come recently was when the two timelines overlapped and we saw three seasons with Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. During that time we saw each player put up 90-plus point seasons. During those years, aging St. Louis relied heavily on the elite shooting of Stamkos to boost his numbers with Stamkos putting up 51, 45, and 60 goals in those three seasons.
That isn’t to say that Stamkos could’ve put up those same numbers without St. Louis, but the majority of Marty’s points came by way of assists on Stamkos goals. Stamkos definitely needed St. Louis, but seeing as St. Louis’ point total dropped by 30 or 40 points without Stamkos, I would say Martin St. Louis needed Steven Stamkos a bit more.
But here we are again, with two of the league’s top 20 players (per TSN) playing on the same line. And we should expect to see special things happen for Stamkos and Kucherov.
Through the first seventeen games in the 2016-2017 season, before Stamkos sustained his injury that sidelined him for the rest of the year, Stamkos and Kucherov had already proven their chemistry by putting up a combined 39 points. The two were on pace to put up a combined 187 points if both played a whole 82 games.
While it isn’t a foregone conclusion that they could have sustained that type of consistency through 17 games, the duo averaged a combined 2.29 points per game. In comparison, the entire Colorado Avalanche was averaging 2.02 goals per game, so on average the Stamkos/Kucherov pairing could’ve put up better production numbers than the entire Colorado Avalanche last season.
With the smaller sample size we are looking at right now, we are seeing that they’ve picked up right where they left off. If, and that is a big if, Stammer and Kuch can consistently put up the numbers they are currently, they will each put up over 120 points this season. As I said, that is a HUGE if. As amazing as it would be to see, no one should expect them to combine for close to 250 points this season.
Even adjusting our expectations a little lower, with Stamkos being 27 and Kucherov being 24, we can eventually expect to see something we have not seen since 2006-2007 in a Lightning sweater. The elite chemistry we will see this season and into the future could very well surpass what we saw with the St. Louis and Lecavalier.
And just like the way in which Stamkos and Kucherov may follow in the statistical footsteps of St. Louis and Lecavalier, the numbers 91 and 86 could very well sit alongside the numbers 26 and 4 in Amalie Arena if they are able to fulfill what seems to be the inevitable--and become one of the greatest duos in Tampa Bay Lightning history.