When Steven Stamkos was drafted on that hot summer day back in Ottawa on June 20, many were already telling him to book his ticket to the awards show, believing that he was a shoo-in for the Calder Trophy.
Through five games, Stamkos has zero points, is a minus-one, averages 10:32 total ice time per game, and has only fired eight shots on net.
Yes, I know this is a small sample size—but keep in mind that he can only play in four more games before he is ineligible to play for any other team but the Lightning.
I am not judging Stamkos just on his stats. He has looked sluggish and out of it when he is on the ice. He is also easily knocked off the puck—which is odd, because he was deemed as NHL-ready by almost everybody.
Which leads me to this question—should Steven Stamkos remain in the NHL after his nine games? So far, Melrose hasn't trusted him with a lot of ice time, and he never gets to play with decent offensive players. The team is also losing, and Stamkos must be getting frustrated.
I know what many people will think—what is there to gain from having him spending another year dominating the OHL? Well, let me ask you this: What is there to gain from having him playing ten minutes a game in the NHL, playing with third-line players, and losing more and more confidence every day?
I say send him back for a year, let him regain his confidence, win another World Junior medal, and bring him back the next year to try it all again.
Another good reason for the Lightning is that they can have him around for a longer period of time.
Let's face it—with Lecavalier's contract, and many other young players' such as Carle's and Meszaros's—the Lightning may not be able to pony up enough cash to keep Stamkos with the franchise. By sending him down this year, they essentially get an extra year of a matured Stamkos at 25 years old, instead of at 18.
The Lightning would also save $3.725 million in cap space, and get to keep Stamkos on his rookie contract until he is 21. It could also be damaging to the "kid" if they do decide to keep him on the roster and his early-season struggles continue throughout the year if the Lightning cannot send him anywhere else except for the press box.
It might even be time for the owners to step in and tell Melrose to play the kid. When they bought the team, they made a huge splash by going after many free agents and making several big trades. They must be getting frustrated as well with how bad the team has looked.
It remains to be seen as to what the Lightning will do, as they went all out in their Seen Stamkos? campaign just before the draft, stopping just short of calling him the Michael Jordan of hockey (*cough* Lecavalier *cough*).
It would be a big slap in the face to some fans to send him down with out giving him a real chance to prove himself.
So, what do you think? Should Steven Stamkos remain with the Tampa Bay Lightning or be sent back to the OHL?