It’s been a solid year for milestones in the NHL as three players have celebrated crossing the 1,000 point mark in their career. Alex Ovechkin, Henrik Sedin and Sidney Crosby have all added that accomplishment to their Hall of Fame resumes. There are 86 players that have achieved that feat in the storied history of the NHL. Will Steven Stamkos eventually join them?
After Crosby joined the club on Thursday, NHL.com published a post speculating which players might also score 1,000 points. There were some obvious names on the list like Daniel Sedin, who is only 26 points away from the mark, and Evgeni Malkin who, while being 181 points away, is pretty much a lock to get there in the next couple of seasons.
Their list also has a couple of questionable picks like Rick Nash (761 points) and Henrik Zetterberg (877), two players that are seeing their skills and point totals diminish rapidly as they age. Nash in particular is a strange pick due to his inability to stay on the ice in recent years. Injuries have limited his playing time over the last two years and, at 32, that’s a trend not likely to change.
One name that the NHL left off of the list was Steven Stamkos. Granted, he’s not likely to accomplish the milestone before some of the players that they did have on their list, but the chances of him getting there are a lot greater than some of the other names listed.
Out of the top 50 active point leaders, Stamkos is currently sitting at 40th with 582 points, and will drop a few spots lower before he returns (hopefully sooner rather than later). Digging a little deeper shows that a healthy Stamkos should skyrocket up the list once he’s back on the ice.
For starters, he’s the youngest player in the top 50 (and the only one born in the 90s, which should make a lot of people feel old). The only player within two years of him is Jonathan Toews, who was born in 1988 and is just 17 points ahead of him. Many of the players ahead of him (Radim Vrbata, Matt Cullen, Zdeno Chara, etc) are in the twilight of their career. At 26, Stamkos has plenty of time to rack up some points, even if he suffers a few more bumps and bruises along the way.
Second, when he’s on the ice, Stamkos puts up points. His career points per game is .993. Among the top 50 active players only Malkin’s 1.180 is higher among players that haven’t eclipsed 1,000 points. Once the Lightning center is back on the ice, there will be no reason he can’t keep that pace going.
The only seasons where Stamkos scored less than 50 points were his rookie season (46) and the broken leg season (40). Even if he only averages 60 points over the next 7 years (the length of his current contract), that gives him another 420 points and puts him over the threshold. At the end of his contract he’s still in his early 30’s, and with his conditioning he should be just as productive as he is in his mid-20s.
Another positive for Stamkos is that he should have talent helping him out. His most productive years came with Marty St. Louis riding shotgun. Whether it’s Jonathan Drouin setting him up or the Russian duo of Vlad Namestnikov and Nikita Kucherov, he has players around him that can put him in position to score.
On a side note, looking at Marty St. Louis’ career numbers, the fact that he got to 1,000 points is one of his more impressive stats considering the late start he had to his NHL career. He made his debut at age 23. He had 95 points after the season he turned 26. He scored 938 points from ages 27-39, a time when most players have already peaked. That’s unreal.
The biggest obstacle that Stamkos faces is not being able to stay healthy. His broken leg, ripped up knee and blood clot have already cost him about 89 games to this point. Theoretically, that’s another 89 points he should have on his career totals. So far he’s been lucky to have injuries that aren’t lingering, but if they keep piling up, not only will they cut into his playing time, they will also diminish his quality of play on the ice.
Another work stoppage could hurt his quest as well. The 2012-13 lockout cost him another 34 games worth of points. If either the players or the owners opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement after 2019 (which has already been speculated), that could be another lost season for Stamkos.
Even facing those possible setbacks, in all likelihood Steven Stamkos will be the first player to celebrate 1,000 points while in a Lightning uniform. It’s just a matter of when.