The first overall pick in 2008, Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos disappointed fantasy owners who speculated he’d produce rookie numbers like those of a certain previous top-pick center:
In 2005-06, Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (the first overall pick in 2005) notched 102 points (39 goals, 63 assists), not to mention 110 PIMs, 47 power play points, and 278 shots on goal. Crosby was 18 years old at the time.
Johnson (ACL, MCL) is out for the season. After spending what might have been his rookie campaign at the University of Minnesota, Johnson had a decent debut in 2007-08: five goals and 28 assists in 69 games. Our point here is simple: Johnson, gifted though he is, didn’t exactly stop the world and melt the ice.
Kane, by contrast, has excelled from day one. He tallied 72 points (21 goals, 51 assists) in 82 games as a rookie; this season, Kane has lived up to his billing as a No. 1 RW: 64 points (24 goals, 40 assists) in 67 games. No wonder Kane is a universally owned fantasy gem.
And so at last, we return to Stamkos: 36 points (16 goals, 20 assists) in 68 games. It still seems disappointing.
But if we view Stamkos’ stats through a more recent prism, his production verges on the point-per-game we’ve seen from Kane:
Stamkos’ last 28 games: 12 goals, 10 assists
Stamkos’ last 19 games: 10 goals, seven assists
Stamkos’ last 11 games: six goals, five assists
What does all of this mean for fantasy purposes? It depends on how deep your team is at center. Clearly, if Stamkos keeps up his late-season production, he has value to any roster as a No. 2 center.
Of course, if your No. 2 center is already someone like Patrick Marleau, Stamkos is not worth the +/- risk. But if your No. 2 center is an assists-and-shots-but-nothing-else guy like Scott Gomez, why not roll the dice on a 19-year-old phenom?