Steven Stamkos: Signs Pointing to the Tampa Bay Lightning Star Rebounding
Some would say that the finish of the 2010-11 season was disappointing for Steven Stamkos.
He finished the season with 45 goals and 46 assists, for six fewer goals and four fewer points than he had tallied the previous season.
The defending Rocket Richard winner finished second in goal-scoring, behind Anaheim Ducks Corey Perry, who scored 50.
After a playoff run that shocked many, Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning fell in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.
While yes, those are disappointing, the season itself was not a complete disappointment for Stamkos or his team.
However, the signs point to Stamkos having a fantastic season this year. Here's why.
1. Age Factor
Steven Stamkos is only 21 years old—surprising considering he seems so much older and has already played three seasons in the NHL.
He does have professional experience, but he still has a lot to learn.
This means that he'll get even better in the next few years before even hitting his prime.
It'll start this season, Stamkos' fourth in the league.
2. Playoff Experience
Some criticized Stamkos for only scoring 13 points—six goals—in 18 playoff games in three rounds last season.
However, what some forget is that that was Stamkos' first postseason experience and he needed time to get used to the difference in play.
Now that he has that experience under his belt, he should be able to parlay his regular season success into postseason success next year.
3. New Contract, New Expectations
This summer, Stamkos eventually signed a five-year, $37.5 million contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
A new contract can go either way: the player can either play well to earn his money or the pressure can cause him to slump.
The former seems most likely in Stamkos' case.
Stamkos will show he's worth every penny and maybe even that that price is a bargain for what he can do for the team.
4. New Publicity as Cover of NHL '12
This one has the least to do with it, but Steven Stamkos is the new cover model of EA Sports NHL '12.
Perhaps being the face of the video game, an honor that only elite players are awarded, will prompt Stamkos to play better than he has before.
This combined with the preceding factors are why Stamkos will have a great season this year and perhaps even win his second Rocket Richard Trophy or maybe even his first Hart Trophy or Ted Lindsay Award.