The NHL announced yesterday that Steven Stamkos was the second star of the week. The Lightning captain scored five goals and eight total points over four games lastweek. Stamkos’ award follows goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy being named the NHL’s third star for the month of January.
Stamkos set a career high last year with 98 points in 82 games. This year, he’s on an almost identical point per game pace with 56 in 49 but because he’s missed three games, he’s a little behind last season’s pace overall.
He hasn’t just been contributing on the scoreboard. He’s currently on pace to post three wins above replacement (WAR). If he does that, it would be his third consecutive season of being at least a three win player. That’s a level of consistency he hasn’t achieved since the first few years of his career and an uncommon one in general as only 15 skaters have managed to string together three consecutive three win seasons since we have data beginning in 2007-2008.
Stamkos will get the chance to continue his hot streak tonight as the Lightning return home to face the Vegas Golden Knights in the first of a three game home stand that continues with a game against the Penguins on Thursday and concludes against the Islanders on Saturday.
Lightning Org News
According the ECHL transactions page, the Syracuse Crunch brought in defender Logan Roe on a loan from the Florida Everblades. This likely means the Crunch are dealing with some injuries on the blue and with Oleg Sosunov injured in Orlando, they needed to go outside the organization to find a replacement.
Roe is a Fort Myers native who is currently second in the ECHL among defenders in scoring. He was the MVP of the ECHL All Star game last month and was the league’s player of the month for January.
This will most likely just be a short term loan and Roe may not even see game action depending the injury situation. But given his status as one of the best blue liners in the ECHL, it’s conceivable the front office might be interested in giving him an audition for a chance at more than that. His performance this season in Estero seems to warrant at least a look.
Other Hockey News
The biggest news of the day yesterday was Frank Seravalli reporting that the Winnipeg Jets and Dustin Byfuglien are approaching an agreement to mutually terminate their contract. Termination would result in Byfuglien becoming a free agent immediately. His status is unclear as he has yet to resume skating since he had surgery during the offseason. He has not indicated publicly whether he is interested in continuing to play hockey.
He was still an excellent player last year so if he does want to return when healthy, it seems likely that teams will be interested. But his injury status and the strange way his time in Winnipeg is ending will likely make teams hesitant to offer much in terms of a contract. It seems likely he sits out the remainder of the season and reevaluates his options this summer during the normal free agency period.
But if he gets cleared to play and is in shape, he would certainly be an interesting option for a competitive team to consider.
While the drama continues to unfold in Winnipeg, the Toronto Maple Leafs were not to be outdone in the drama department. After making a scene over scratching Kasperi Kapanen on Saturday night and saying that he would address the media on Monday, Kapanen stepped up to the mic to announce the riveting news that he had overslept and been late for a meeting.
You’d think a team in a media market like Toronto would want to minimize these types of situations. For some reason, they chose to amplify this one. I can only assume the goal here was to publicly shame Kapanen into becoming more punctual, which seems like overkill. Seems like they could’ve just said they were scratching him because he was late on Saturday and avoided all of this hullabaloo.
To add injury and another insult to the previous self-inflicted insult, Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen left Monday night’s game after a collision with Frank Vatrano. Considering the Leafs backup goalies are a collection of large decorative garden rocks, that’s a problem. As evidence of that problem, see the third period of last night’s game where they blew a 3-1 lead. Fortunately for them, head coach Shelden Keefe said after the game that Andersen could return to practice as soon as tomorrow. Maybe the ripple of panic that must have gone through the management box as Andersen left the game will spur them to finally make a trade for an NHL caliber backup. The Rangers are awaiting that call.
And while we’re feeding the NHL drama machine, we might as well go all in. The Philadelphia police concluded their investigation and decided that Gritty did not punch a kid. Enjoy your Tuesday.