Tampa Bay Lightning: 30 Best Draft Picks In Franchise History

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Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

2. Steven Stamkos

Draft Year: 2008

Position: Center

If there is any player currently on the Tampa Bay Lightning roster who could easily be recognized as the face of the organization, that player is Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos.

Steven Stamkos kicked off what would become a rather interesting draft class. The future Tampa Bay Lightning captain was selected in the First Round (First Overall) by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. As you can imagine, the Tampa Bay Lightning wasted absolutely no time in getting this future captain onto the Lightning’s main roster.

In his first season with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Stamkos would play in a total of 79 games. In that amount of time, Stamkos would bring home 23 goals and 23 assists for a total of 46 points. This was only the beginning of the skilled sniper’s career.

The very next season, Steven Stamkos would put on quite the performance; one that would not only grab the attention of the fans here in the Bolts Nation, but putting just about everyone else in the National Hockey League on notice. In the 2009-10 season, Steven Stamkos would set a career high in goals, bringing home 51 goals and 44 assists for a total of 95 points.

These numbers would lead Stamkos to earn what is known as the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy, which is awarded to the highest goal-scorer in the National Hockey League. Stamkos would share this honor with Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby. This is not the only time the Lightning captain would win this award. Just two seasons later, Stamkos would raise the bar on his career-high goals when he brought home 60 goals and 37 assists for a total of 97 points. This would earn him his second Rocket Richard Trophy.

Just two seasons after capturing his second Rocket Richard Trophy, Steven Stamkos would be faced with one of the biggest challenges of his young career. On November 11, 2013, the Tampa Bay Lightning would head to the TD Garden to face off with one of their biggest rivals, the Boston Bruins. Late in the second period, the unimaginable would happen.

Steven Stamkos was charging towards the Lightning net to assist former Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Anders Lindback when the edge of his skate went out from under him. Stamkos quickly fell to the ice and slammed full speed into the goal post. For a single second, it seemed as if Stamkos was just dinged up and would be able to return to the game, but when he attempted to stand it was apparent something was very wrong.

Unfortunately, the minute people had an opportunity to see the replay and what Stamkos’ leg looked like as it rammed into the goal post, it was apparent the worst was upon us. Despite the unimaginable pain Steven Stamkos must have been in, he still had a surprise for everyone here in the Bolts Nation.

Stamkos would undergo surgery to repair his broken tibia, and the Tampa Bay Lightning knew it would be a long road to recovery without one of the team’s most skilled forwards. Amazingly enough, just two weeks after undergoing surgery, Stamkos was not only walking, but walking without the assistance of crutches or a cane. Needless to say, Stamkos shocked everyone when he walked into his press conference.

After spending just about four months away from the ice, Steven Stamkos would make his return to the Tampa Bay Lightning lineup. Despite all the time he missed, Stamkos would still rally to break the 20 goal mark and the 40 point mark that season.

Steven Stamkos may have been forced to miss the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia due to his broken tibia, but little did he know there was a far greater task awaiting him right here in Tampa Bay. On March 5, 2014 Tampa Bay Lightning captain Martin St. Louis was traded to the New York Rangers, leaving a rather large hole in the Lightning, not only on the ice, but in leadership as well.

It was with pride that when Stamkos took the ice for the first time since being sidelined with a broken tibia on March 6th against the Buffalo Sabres. Before the game, Steven Stamkos would be named the team’s new captain. There is no denying this is a huge challenge for someone as young as Steven Stamkos, but he has handled the task quite well.

While there has been all manner of rumor making its way around the Bolts Nation regarding the status of his contract negotiations with the Tampa Bay Lightning, there is one thing we know for sure. Since making his way to the ice as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Steven Stamkos has made an impact both on and off the ice with his puck handling skills, his tremendous speed, and his leadership skills.

These are just some of the reasons why Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos has made it all the way to the number two spot on our list of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s best draft picks in franchise history.

Next: Our Captain…The Champion