Top Five Salary Cap Forwards – #2

Dobber Sports

2012-01-26

 

Stamkos

 

The number two ranked forward may not have the experience and history that most on this list have accrued, but much like Rick, he’s slick and can’t miss.

 

2.Steven Stamkos – Change a couple of letters in his last name and you’ve got an accurate description – Steven Studly is just that. Coming off of a rough, yet typical rookie season in the NHL, Stamkos exploded for 51 and 45 goals respectively, in the following two seasons. Currently on pace for 55 goals, a quick look at the top 10 scorers in the NHL for the past two and a half seasons displays Stamkos’ innate ability.

 

FP6

 

Not only has Stamkos scored the most goals, but he’s done so by a massive 26-goal margin. That’s a full season of goals for a lot of scorers in the NHL. There have been other junior snipers who have stepped into the NHL and produced well, notably John Tavares, Patrick Kane and Zach Parise, whose shooting game either hasn’t caught up, translated to the NHL, or took a few more years before the 40+ goal seasons arrived. What makes Stamkos so exceptional is his prowess for scoring at such an early age, one we haven’t seen since phenom Alex Ovechkin posted 52 goals in his rookie season. Goals is the toughest to fill and most valuable category in multi-cat leagues which gives goal scorers a boost in value over the opposition. But, can Stamkos hang on to his title as best goal-scorer in the league as the players who have made him into the player he is begin to age and start losing their touch?

 

One giant question mark hanging over Stamkos’ head is how much of his production is tied to play-making superstar Martin St. Louis. Using Frozen Pool’s "Line Combination" tool, we can see a major swing in who Stamkos is producing on a line with between this season and last.

 

In 2010-11, 82 of his 91 points came with St. Louis on the ice. That translates to about 90% which is a clear statement that St. Louis plays a large role in Stamkos’ success. This year, conversely, St. Louis has been on the ice a lot less with Stammer, only for about 58% of his production. This is fantastic news for Stamkos owners as the argument has been made that he could struggle once St. Louis sees a downturn in his game, which isn’t too far off for the 34 year old.

 

Establishing his game early, before St. Louis is gone for good, is a bold but fantastic move by Tampa Bay. One could question why you would split up something made out of magic, but the reward will be big as Stamkos will now be able to comfortably slide into an environment without his favorite set-up man. Management, fans and poolies alike can rejoice in the fact that 15.38% of his even-strength production this year has come with Ryan Malone and Teddy Purcell – identical to the 15.38% he has seen with St. Louis and Lecavalier. Disaster averted, but the problem isn’t completely solved.

 

While he’s proven to be able to produce with other linemates, having two strong lines creates and issue when the opposition tries to match up their shut down lines against Tampa’s most productive players.  Playing your top shut-down unit against a Stamko’s led line, or a St. Louis one isn’t an easy decision. Tampa has the ability t