There are always certain teams that are standouts in each conference, and in the Eastern Conference, those classified as the elite typically include Pittsburgh, Washington, Boston, and Philadelphia, but this year ,Tampa Bay has broken into the top.
The Lightning are currently sitting on top of the Southeastern Division, beating out even the Washington Capitals. One of the major forces that has driven Tampa Bay to the top is the successes of superstar forward, Steven Stamkos.
Stamkos has essentially carried the Lightning to their current position of third in the East with a 37-19-7 record. The dynamic duo of Stamkos and Martin St. Louis (who is arguably another candidate for the Hart Trophy) has been an absolute dream for Tampa Bay, with both forwards tallying at least 75 points thus far.
Having Stamkos fueling the resurgence of the Lightning makes him a strong candidate because he is a standout in the league despite not having the depth offensively that some other teams have. Some might make a case that someone in Vancouver, possibly one of the Sedin twins, deserves the title, but when there's as much depth offensively as the Canucks have, then a lot of the success could be attributed to the supporting cast and secondary scoring.
Steven Stamkos, on the other hand, is a clearly talented player and has propelled the Lightning to the top despite being relatively shallow in secondary scoring.