Steven Stamkos’ numbers are down this year. He is currently tied for 7th in the league with 26 goals, fourteen behind Alex Ovechkin for the league’s lead, and 29th in the league with 47 points though 60 regular season games this year. Let’s break down his statistics to find out why his production has dropped off:
As shown on the above graph, all of Stamkos’ production metrics per 60 minutes of ice time this season (shown in red) are down from the past four years. This could be for a number of reasons so let’s keep digging.
From 2011-2015, Stamkos averaged over fifteen shot attempts per 60 minutes of ice time, which was 52nd in the league over that four year span (minimum of 2,000 TOI). During that same span with the same parameters, Stamkos is 8th in the league with 2.46 P/60. This year, he is averaging just 12.32 shot attempts per 60 minutes of ice time, good for 128th (minimum of 500 TOI). Over the same span with the same parameters, Stamkos has fallen to 131st with 1.57 P/60.
There is a correlation between Stamkos’ 5v5 individual shot attempts and his production. As seen on the above graph, both Stamkos’ 5v5 iCorsi/60 and 5v5 P/60 marks are at the lowest of his career so far. For Stamkos to have success, he has to have teammates feeding him the puck.
In addition, Stamkos’ 5v5 shooting percentage (SH%) is currently at his lowest point since the 2009-2010 season (shown on blue). The red line shows his average shooting percentage for his career. For the past two seasons, Stamkos has shot below his career average to date. The combination of shooting the puck less and having a lower shooting percentage is causing problem’s for Stamkos’ production.
This is a cause for concern as he’s in a contract year, especially with the money and term he’ll be demanding on the free agent market. But the question to ask is has his production dropped because of his age or because of his usage?
A playmaking linemate for Stamkos has been on General Manager Steve Yzerman’s wish list since dealing star forward Marty St. Louis in 2014. Head Coach Jon Cooper has continued to revert back to centering Stamkos alongside Ryan Callahan and Alex Killorn on Tampa’s top line over the past two seasons (in 2015 and 2016), neither whom are known for their playmaking abilities. Could Stamkos’ linemates be limiting his production and could there be a better option on Tampa’s roster?
Taking a look at Stamkos’ WOWYs from this season (where each category is conditionally formatted with blue representing good and red representing bad), is it very easy to recognize Stamkos posted strong goal numbers but weaker possession numbers alongside both Killorn and Callahan. A PDO of 109.50 shows they have had luck on their side and indicates their goal statistics may not be sustainable in the long term.
Of the parameter of with Killorn & without Callahan on the ice, Stamkos struggled mightily in both goal and possession metrics. Stamkos posted stronger numbers with the parameter of with Callahan & without Callahan on the ice but still negative possession numbers.
Looking at Stamkos’ WOWYs with other playmaking forwards on the Tampa roster, the impact on possession statistics is very noticeable. Stamkos has posted much higher CF/60 and lower CA/60 numbers with Vladislav Namestnikov, Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov.
Possibly the perfect linemate for Stamkos on Tampa Bay’s current roster is Namestnikov. In the largest sample size (350+ TOI together) observed here, they’ve posted strong numbers in both the goal and possession metrics. Kucherov would be another strong choice to play with Stamkos due to their strong possession numbers. Their goal statistics are very low but a PDO of 93.70 indicates that in the long term, they will improve, but Kucherov may be better suited on the second line with Palat and Tyler Johnson.
Looking at Micah Blake McCurdy’s Spider Diagram for this season, Stamkos has posted much stronger score-adjusted shot statistics alongside Namestnikov, Palat, and Kucherov than Killorn and Callahan. Last season was a different story with Killorn and Callahan positively impacting Stamkos’ score-adjusted shots, but they haven’t been able to continue their success.
That being said, it is clear for Stamkos to be success, having a playmaking winger that positively impacts possession statistics isn’t a necessity. From 2010 to 2014, Stamkos played almost 2,500 total minutes with Marty St. Louis. Together they were able to produce offensively at the top of the league while posting negative possession numbers.
Jonathan Drouin was drafted as a talented playmaking winger but Cooper has been hesitant to give him a legitimate chance to prove his spot alongside Stamkos. Drouin’s current situation is well known in the media so as of now, he doesn’t appear to be an option.
Stamkos’ linemates will be something for Jon Cooper and the Tampa Bay Lightning to look at down the road. Including last night, Stamkos has scored in four straight games, all of which were won by Tampa. Callahan and Killorn have combined for a total of four assists on Stamkos’ past four goals. Either way, Stamkos needs wingers to be feeding him pucks. He is still producing but there are options available for Tampa Bay to optimize his production while he’s in his prime. Stamkos struggled for large stretches of last season’s postseason while the team was carried by the Triplets. For Tampa to make another deep run, they will need two lines firing on all cylinders.
Follow Steve Ness on Twitter: @QuickkNess