Tag:Steven Stamkos
Posted on: September 5, 2011 1:44 pm
Edited on: September 5, 2011 1:47 pm
 

Stamkos still enjoys playing summer baseball

StamkosBaseballBy: Adam Gretz

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos has scored 96 goals over the past two seasons, and is already one of the most dangerous offensive players in the NHL at the age of 21. Earlier this offseason his production over the first three seasons of his career resulted in a brand new five-year, $37.5 million contract with the Lightning.

The fame that comes with being one of the top players in the league, as well as the brand new pay check, hasn't stopped him from spending his summer playing in a "beer league" baseball league in his hometown of Markhem, Ontario, where Stamkos buys uniforms, bats and picks up the post-game bar tabs.

Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star checked out a game this past week, and the reviews of Stamkos' baseball skills are almost as glowing as the ones usually reserved for his ability on the ice.

From the Star:
For the 21-year-old Stamkos, who played on three provincial championship baseball teams for the Markham Mariners from about age 11 to 13, the grand old game has long been a passion.

“He could have been better at baseball than hockey,” said Adam Velocci.

“His dad wanted him to play baseball, but he loves hockey,” said Velocci, the Green Beys' third baseman who also played on those championship squads.

Said Chris Stamkos, Steven's father: “Steven was smaller when he was young. Although he was good in hockey, I did think he had more natural instincts in baseball ... But then he grew, and he got more serious with hockey.”

Whatever talents he may have had -- or still has -- for baseball, hockey fans, and especially Tampa Bay fans, have to be happy he started following the path he's currently on. Feschuk also points out that NHL players have to get written consent from their team to take part in certain offseason activities, including baseball, and that consent is usually given.

Stamkos, who plays left field, is apparently hitting .608 on the season and clubbed a three-run homer the night Feschuk attended.

Some other notable hockey-baseball connections: You may have heard a thing or two (in every single game he played) about Chris Drury's appearance in the Little League World Series, while it's pretty common for hockey players that share a city with a big league baseball team to take their hacks in the batting cage. A couple of years ago Penguins captian Sidney Crosby knocked one out of PNC Park in Pittsburgh, while new Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith managed to do the same back in June.

(H/T The Big Lead, via PHT)

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: August 29, 2011 5:58 pm
Edited on: August 29, 2011 7:24 pm
 

Eating healthy with Gary Roberts

RobertsBy: Adam Gretz

Even at 45 years of age and two years into his retirement former NHL player Gary Roberts is probably in better physical shape than most of the players that are still active..

He's a health food freak and workout junkie (and whatever other cliche you can think of) and has spent the past couple of years working with young NHL players -- perhaps most famously Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning -- to whip them into shape and improve their overall conditioning.

A large portion of that program is dietary, and James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail has an excellent piece highlighing the strict -- and limited -- diet Roberts instructs young players to follow.

Writes Mirtle:
Players are assigned a diet that has no wheat, no sugar, no soy and no processed or packaged foods. Everything must be organic, from deli meats on up, and the 26-item list of what players should eat includes goat’s milk, sunflower sprouts, mung beans, salba, chia and hemp.

While their workouts at Mr. Roberts’s High Performance Centre gym north of Toronto get most of the outside attention, players find that it’s what they eat that’s the most important part of the program.

“It’s nutrition, then body maintenance – treatment or yoga – and then it’s the training. If you don’t do the first two, the third one’s not going to work out that well,” says Mr. Roberts.
In other words: No late-night stops (or any stops) at the drive-thru window. I can honestly say I've never tasted a mung bean, and the only thing I know about them is that Creed Bratton once mentioned them on an episode of The Office and described them as, "very nutritious, but they smell like death."

You can check out the complete menu over at the Globe and Mail, as well as a couple of sample recipes that Roberts has players like Brayden Schenn, Jeff Skinner, James Neal, Jordan Staal and Cody Hodgson chowing down on to stay in top physical shape. I have to admit, I think I'm going to try some of them, especailly the shakes, including "Gary Roberts's Molten Chocolate Mousse" and "Steven Stamkos's Mango Mousse."

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @agretz on Twitter.


Posted on: August 29, 2011 2:26 pm
Edited on: August 29, 2011 2:59 pm
 

Eastern Conference spots seem set for some time

By Brian Stubits

Sometimes simple and obvious things just hit you. Things you had realized before but for some reason they jump to your attention again. It tends to happen a lot more often during the lazy hockey days of summer.

That's exactly what happened when I began to think about the makeup of hockey markets/organizations, particularly in the Eastern Conference. What popped into my head was the fact that the contenders this season are likely to be the same as they were last season, and for the most part the same they were the season before that. And it's likely they will remain the contenders for the season after next, too.

At that moment I realized the NHL is starting to resemble the NBA in a way. And that's not good. One of the biggest reasons the NBA is in a lockout that seems to have no end in sight (Ken Berger and the Eye on Basketball guys have that covered) is the very issue that only a handful of teams enter every season with a chance to win the Larry O'Brien Trophy. Everybody's favorite stat about the (lack of) parity in the NBA is the simple fact that since 1984, only eight different organizations have won the championship. That's eight teams in 28 seasons.

Now look at the Eastern Conference in hockey. The Capitals have been atop their division for four straight seasons. The Penguins and Flyers are perennial contenders. Same goes for the Bruins while the Rangers, Canadiens and Sabres are regulars in the 5-8 range in the standings.

Of course that leaves teams like the Islanders (four-year playoff drought), Maple Leafs (six-year drought), Jets/Thrashers (one appearance in franchise history), Hurricanes (perennial contender for first runnerup these days) and the Panthers (10-year drought) to fend at the bottom.

So where do these teams fit? When you have a team like the Islanders seeming ready to step up and compete for the playoffs, who are they going to surpass? The Eastern Conference is full of traditional hockey markets in the American northeast and Canada, big markets either in hockey-crazy cities and ones with rich histories. The West has a few of those as well -- namely Vancouver, Detroit and Chicago -- but not as many as the East.

But have a look at the chart below detailing the past four seasons. Five teams have made the playoffs in each of those seasons and four teams have failed to advance beyond the regular season even once.

Last four seasons
Team Average finish (Eastern Conference) Playoff appearances 2011-12 payroll (capgeek.com)
Capitals 1.75 4 $65,190,128
Penguins 3.5 4 $62,737,500
Bruins 4.5 4 $56,682,976
Flyers 5 4 $64,124,761
Devils 5 3 $58,429,167
Canadiens 5.75 4 $59,770,510
Rangers 7.25 3 $62,935,334
Sabres 7.5 2 $67,895,357
Hurricanes 8.75 1 $49,775,000
Senators 9 2 $51,845,834
Lightning 11.5 1 $59,326,083
Maple Leafs 12.25 0 $59,115,000
Jets/Thrashers 12.25 0 $48,284,166
Panthers 12.25 0 $49,882,042
Islanders 13.75 0 $45,970,166

You get the feeling that at least five spots are locks in the East this year with two more almost assuredly the same. In the lock category you start with four of the five teams that have been staples: The Capitals, Penguins, Flyers and Bruins. Add in the up-and-coming Lightning for good measure. Hard to imagine any of those five not making it this season. In the next two spots I think you can add the Rangers and Sabres. With new owner Terry Pegula, the Sabres seem destined to become another playoff regular. These are teams that all improved (or in the case of Boston, didn't have to improve, but more or less stay in tact after winning the Stanley Cup) and were already playoff caliber.

By my stellar mathematical abilities, that leaves one spot essentially up for grabs. Among the group fighting for it will be the Canadiens (the other team to make it each of the past four seasons), Devils and, well, the rest of the conference. Outside of the Senators who are building for a few years from now and maybe the Jets, every team in the conference looks to be better now then they were at the end of last season.

And here's the thing: I don't see how it will be easy to unseat these teams at the top of the conference. Sure, you will have the occasional team slipping through like the Lightning. To extend the analogy back to the NBA, that's like the Oklahoma City Thunder building after years of struggle to a competitive level. But they still have to fight through the Lakers, Mavericks and Spurs, all of which are almost guaranteed to be in the hunt. It's hard to imagine a time when the Lakers won't be contenders, and when they have been (post-Shaquille O'Neal) they rebuilt in a hurry and won the title shortly thereafter.

That's what I'm seeing for the Eastern Conference, that kind of perennial favorite similarity. It makes sense, obviously. The best free agents will want to go to the best teams in the best hockey cities and the biggest pay checks. That's to be expected. And that's a huge reason why these teams are able to stay above the equator. It doesn't hurt to have the infrastructures they all have at their disposal, too. From fan support to smart organizational minds and moves, they win more often than not. Success begets success. It's no coincidence that these are also the teams most heavily featured on national TV.

Let's look at the Capitals. Owner Ted Leonsis has been mentioned his 10-to-15-year plan ... not a plan that calls for 10-to-15 years to win the Cup (although it's starting to look that way) but instead to keep the Caps a Cup contender for that time. And because Washington D.C. has shown itself to be a strong hockey market and is appealing to free agents, it's easy to see how the Caps can sustain that. You have a young Alexander Ovechkin on your roster? Lock him up! Just throw a 13-year contract in front of one of the sport's best players and he's aboard for the long haul. Try and do the same when you're in Tampa Bay and you have a situation where you are only able to secure Steven Stamkos for five seasons.

The reasons are obvious, much the same as the Yankees in baseball (and now the Red Sox). You can pen each of those teams into the playoffs before the season even starts and you are most likely going to be right. But this isn't supposed to happen in hockey, not with a supposedly game-evening hard salary cap. It's just the inherent advantages are too tough for a lot of teams to compete with. Essentially, the margin for error is razor thin for the lesser markets/organizations.

Toronto is the exception (sorry Leafs fans) to the big-market success model. It is probably the best hockey market in the NHL, has an incredibly devoted fan base and has not been afraid to spend. But even the Leafs are struggling these days to break that glass ceiling and butt their way into the playoffs. They couldn't beat out the Rangers for Brad Richards' services in free agency.

Now this is why they play the game. You can't lock in these teams to the playoffs. After all, who saw that Devils season coming last year? You still have to earn your way into the postseason. But if you are a fan of one of the bottom-feeders in the East, I'd suggest you cool your jets. The East's upper echelon is pretty well full of NHL aristocrats. The competition will be better and the spots will likely be more fiercely fought for, but it will be hard to break through.

In the West you can hear the mid-level teams saying "welcome to our world."

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: August 17, 2011 4:11 pm
Edited on: August 18, 2011 9:09 am
 

More EA Sports legends: Roenick, Roy, Yzerman

NHL12

By: Adam Gretz

Last week EA Sports announced the first three players that will be included in the NHL '12 legends feature, and they were Wayne Gretzky, Ray Bourque and Chris Chelios. On Wednesday a few more names were revealed, including Patrick Roy, who appears to be the only goaltender among the nine legends, Steve Yzerman and, yes, Jeremy Roenick. It also appears that former Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Borje Salming will be in the game, even though his name hasn't officially been announced (he appeared in a video featuring Yzerman).

The announcement of Roenick comes just one day after he showed up in a video reenacting the classic Swingers scene that included his dominating appearance in earlier versions of the EA Sports hockey games. I suggested Roenick last week not knowing he was actually going to be included (and yes, I am happy he's included).

The selection of Roy is probably expected, and it's not really a shock to see Yzerman included as well (the trailer even shows him a Tampa Bay Lightning uniform skating next to Steven Stamkos). The surprising name appears to be Salming. He was an excellent player for the Maple Leafs in the 1970s and 80s, and was probably one of the first European players to become a star in the NHL. He's a Hockey Hall of Famer (class of 1996) and had four straight seasons with at least 71 points between 1976 and 1980, so it's not like he wasn't an important player, or an outstanding one. But it's still a surprising addition. Heck, if you told me a former Maple Leafs player from Sweden was going to be in the game, Salming wouldn't have been my first guess (that would have been Mats Sundin).

Check out the trailer featuring Roenick and Roy over at EA Sports. There are still two more legends to be named.

Photo: EA Sports

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: August 8, 2011 9:46 am
Edited on: August 9, 2011 3:22 pm
 

Recent No. 1 picks going straight to NHL

By: Adam Gretz

Fans in Edmonton were able to get an up close look at their most recent No. 1 overall pick, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, at team Canada's prospect development camp this past week, and the early returns are very promising. He helped cap off a come-from-behind win for the White team during their Red-White scrimmage on Saturday, tying the game in the third period and then winning it with 20 seconds to play.

Donna Spencer of the Canadian Press wrote about the skills he displayed on Friday, while Oilers forward Ryan Smyth, and potentially a teammate of Nugent-Hopkins this upcoming season, called him a "nifty little player" after sitting behind the bench for the Red team during the scrimmage.

It's still not known whether or not he's going to play in the NHL this season, but if recent history is any indicator, it would seem to be a mild upset if he didn't. Going back to 1997 there have been 11 forwards taken with the top pick in the NHL draft, and 10 of them made their debut the same year they were drafted. The only player that didn't, technically speaking, was Washington's Alex Ovechkin, and that was due to circumstances beyond his and his team's control: the NHL lockout. Had it not been for the work stoppage he would have been a lock to make his debut.

What can be reasonably expected of Nugent-Hopkins should he play for the Oilers this upcoming season? Here's a look at what the recent straight-to-the-NHL top picks have done during their rookie seasons:

Top Picks NHL Draft Rookie Season
Player Games Goals Assists Points Avg. Mins. Per Game
Taylor Hall (2010) 65 22 20 42 18:12
John Tavares (2009) 82 24 30 54 18:00
Steven Stamkos (2008) 79 23 23 46 14:56
Patrick Kane (2007) 82 21 51 72 18:21
Sidney Crosby (2005) 81 39 63 102 20:07
Alex Ovechkin (2005)* 81 52 54 106 21:37
Rick Nash (2002) 74 17 22 39 13:06
Ilya Kovalchuk (2001) 65 29 22 61 18:34
Patrik Stefan (1999) 72 5 20 25 14:48
Vincent Lecavalier (1998) 82 13 15 28 13:39
Joe Thornton (1997) 55 3 4 7 8:05

*Ovechkin's first season came after the lockout, which was a year after his draft year.

With the exception of Patrik Stefan, every one of these players has gone on to be a productive player or a star player in the NHL (the jury is still out on Taylor Hall at this point after just one season, but we like his chances).

What's a reasonable expectation for Nugent-Hopkins should he play for the Oilers this season? Well, nobody should expect Crosby/Ovechkin levels because those guys are from a different planet. But 20 goals seems like it would be a solid goal based on recent performances by other top picks, assuming he's able to withstand the physical toll of the NHL. And that seems to be the chief concern for Nugent-Hopkins; it's not his skill or ability, but simply whether or not he has the strength to do it at this point. He currently weighs in at 175 pounds according to Spencer's Canadian Press report from over the weekend. That would make him one of the smallest players in the league

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: August 2, 2011 5:32 pm
Edited on: August 2, 2011 7:24 pm
 

Ryan Kesler has hip surgery, could miss 12 weeks

Kesler

By: Adam Gretz

On Tuesday the Vancouver Canucks announced center Ryan Kesler underwent successful hip surgery and could be sidelined for as long as 10-12 weeks.

Said general manager Mike Gillis, “After consultation with our team physicians following the playoffs, it was deemed that Ryan would require a procedure on his hip. We expect a full recovery and determined this procedure would best serve both Ryan and the team’s long term goals.”

Assuming the timeline of 10-12 weeks is how long it will take for a complete recovery, it will force him to miss all of training camp and the preseason, as well as the start of the regular season. Kesler is coming off a sensational 2010-11 season with the Canucks where he scored a career high 41 goals while also taking home the Selke Award, which is given to the NHL's best defensive forward. He had been a finalist the two previous seasons, having finished second in 2010 and third in 2009.

The 26-year-old Kesler, who was a first-round pick by the Canucks in 2003, has been one of the best defensive forwards in the NHL for a couple of years now, while also being able to chip in around 20 goals on the offensive end. This past season the goal numbers skyrocketed to the point where he finished fourth in the league, trailing only Corey Perry, Steven Stamkos and Jarome Iginla.

His teammate, Daniel Sedin, was tied with him for the fourth spot in the league and the top spot on the team.

He's one of Vancouver's best all-around players and missing him for any point of time is a large blow to the team.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: July 24, 2011 9:16 am
Edited on: July 24, 2011 9:45 am
 

Daily Skate: Coyotes ticket sales up

By Adam Gretz

TICKET SALES ON THE RISE IN PHOENIX: It may not be quite as impressive as the Buffalo Sabresrecord renewal rate, but the Phoenix Coyotes have set their own franchise record for season-ticket renewals. According to the Arizona Republic, the team has sold over 1,000 new season ticket packages this summer and has had a 90-percent renewal rate, the highest mark in the history of the team. All of this despite continued uncertainty in ownership and with the long-term future of the franchise. The Coyotes averaged 12,188 fans per game last season, 29th in the NHL (only the Islanders averaged less). Any improvement is a positive sign at this point.

SURGERY FOR MALONE: The Tampa Bay Lightning reported on their Twitter feed that forward Ryan Malone underwent shoulder surgery this offseason, and he should be ready for the start of training camp. The team claims any reports of him being out four-to-six months are "inaccurate."

BISHOP COMPETING FOR BACKUP ROLE: Ben Bishop and Brian Elliott are set to compete for the backup goaltender spot in St. Louis, and it should simply come down to which player plays the best. Contracts or the salary cap shouldn't play a factor, because as general manager Doug Armstrong said, via Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Dispatch, "Two guys, both making the same amount of money, looking for the same job."

STAMKOS HAPPY TO STAY IN TAMPA BAY: After weeks of offer-sheet speculation, the Lightning were finally able to sign restricted free agent Steven Stamkos to a five-year contract last week. Stamkos, as well as general manager Steve Yzerman, talked about the process of finally working out a deal, and the 21-year-old superstar seems happy to stay with the Lightning.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: July 19, 2011 5:07 pm
Edited on: July 19, 2011 6:21 pm
 

Stamkos' contract compared to recent deals

By: Adam Gretz

The Steven Stamkos restricted free agency saga finally came to its expected conclusion on Tuesday afternoon when it was announced that the 21-year-old forward signed a five-year deal that will keep him in Tampa Bay through the end of the 2015-16 season. His current cap hit of $7.5 million is tied for the seventh largest number in the NHL along with Dany Heatley and Marian Gaborik, and it places him behind Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Eric Staal, Rick Nash and Vincent Lecavalier.

It's the first major contract for Stamkos coming off his entry level deal and compares favorably to contracts signed by other young forwards at similar points in their careers. Here's a quick look at how this deal stacks up with the NHL's other top young forwards that have signed their first major contracts in the salary cap era (ranked in order of cap hit)...

Recent Young Players and Their First Big Contract
Player Years Total Dollars Cap Hit
Alex Ovechkin 13 $124 million $9.53 million
Sidney Crosby 5 $43.5 million $8.7 million
Evgeni Malkin 5 $43.5 million $8.7 million
Steven Stamkos 5 $37.5 million $7.5 million
Anze Kopitar 7 $47.6 million $6.8 million
Nicklas Backstrom 10 $67 million $6.7 million
Paul Stastny 5 $33 million $6.6 million
Patrick Kane 5 $31.5 million $6.3 million
Jonathan Toews 5 $31.5 million $6.3 million
Phil Kessel 5 $27 million $5.4 million
Bobby Ryan 5 $25.5 million $5.1 million

Five years is a pretty common contract length, unless you're looking at the Washington Capitals, who have made sure their two best players are taken care of for the next decade (at which point they will still only be in their early 30s). The cap hit puts Stamkos slightly below players like Crosby and Ovechkin and slightly above players like Backstrom, Kane, Toews and Kopitar. And that seems fair based on the on-ice production. He's more productive than the second group and still somewhat behind the first.

The only real concern for Tampa Bay fans at this point -- and this is still years away from being an issue -- is this: Once the deal expires (and yes, we're already looking ahead to the next Stamkos free agency saga) he will be hitting the open market (as an unrestricted free agent -- and that's assuming the age for unrestricted free agency remains the same) at the age of 26, well into the prime of his career.

Salary figures via CapGeek

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @agretz on Twitter.



 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com