Stamkos was named the Lightning’s new captain prior to the contest after trading Martin St. Louis to the Rangers on Wednesday. Stamkos played 21:03 with no points, a minus-1 rating and five shots. However, it was his presence on the dot that was most noticeable, he won 17 of 24 draws against the Sabres. It will likely take Stammer a few games to get back to 100 percent, he gets back in action on Saturday vs. the Bruins.
Steven Stamkos met with doctors on Wednesday and was given medical clearance to play on Thursday against the Sabres.
On a day filled with trades, this has to be the best deadline acquisition of the day. Stamkos is arguably the best scorer in the NHL and he has missed 45 games after fracturing his right tibia on November 11.
Before getting injured, Stamkos had 14 goals and nine assists (23 points) in 17 games. That is a 67 goal pace in 82 games, just to give you an idea of how good he was playing before getting hurt. Fantasy owners have been waiting patiently for Stamkos to return and Thursday is the day to slide him back into your lineup. He has a great shot to return with a boom as he gets set to take on the lowly Buffalo Sabres. Buffalo has allowed the 24th most goals/per game this season.
Barring a Martin St. Louis trade before today’s 3 p.m EST deadline, expect Stammer to centre the top-line with the newly acquired Ryan Callahan on one wing and likely Ondrej Palat on the other. His return makes the Lightning a much deeper team, as they get to push Tyler Johnson back to the third line, however he was great in his stint as the top-line pivot (18G, 20A =38P in 62 GMS).
Stamkos is an exceptional athlete and has been on the ice for months now, he should be able to jump back into NHL action with minimal rust. With 20 games left this season, it is reasonable to expect him to pot 15 goals. After missing nearly four months a 30-goal season for Stamkos (needs 16) would be extraordinary, but it certainly is not out of the question.