Thread: Prospect Info: Mikael Granlund IV
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02-01-2013, 11:57 AM
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Jan 9, 2009: #1 draft pick takes a seat:

Steven Stamkos, the top pick in last June's entry draft, was a healthy scratch from the Tampa Bay Lightning's lineup Friday against the Ducks, and somewhere, Barry Melrose is laughing.

When Melrose was fired by the Lightning after coaching only 16 games, he said that one big point of contention was Stamkos' readiness for the NHL. He didn't think the kid was ready and said he was pressured to play Stamkos because he was a potential drawing card.

Well, it now seems that the team's coaching staff, led by Coach Rick Tocchet, has decided that the 6-1, 180-pound center needs to bulk up before he can be effective against some of the muscular defensemen in the NHL. Stamkos has been put on a weight-training program that will take precedence over playing, and he was held out of Friday's game.

Stamkos has four goals and 14 points and a minus-11 plus/minus rating in 40 games.

He's scheduled to play against the Kings on Monday at Staples Center, which should be interesting because the No. 2 overall pick, defenseman Drew Doughty, has had remarkable success so far. Which leads to the question: Did the Kings really win when they lost the lottery for the No. 1 pick?

Seems that way so far, though Stamkos has talent and isn't likely to be a total bust.

-- Helene Elliott

March 20, 2010: After slow start, young star emerges

After being drafted first overall in 2008, Stamkos made the leap from junior hockey in Ontario to the NHL. But he struggled to earn playing time under then-coach Barry Melrose, who felt the center's body and defensive game weren't ready for the big leagues. A month into that season, a headline in the St. Petersburg Times asked, "Where's Stamkos?" a play on the "Seen Stamkos?" marketing slogan.

After Tampa Bay fired Melrose only 16 games into his first season, the team took a different approach with Stamkos, whom many within the organization considered to be key to stabilizing a franchise struggling on the ice and in turmoil off it. Rick Tocchet replaced Melrose and put Stamkos on a strength-training program. He scratched Stamkos on three occasions, each time asking him to watch from the press box with a notebook and pen in hand. Stamkos also attended regular video sessions with an assistant coach.

"That's when it hit home," Stamkos said. "I started to doubt myself a little bit, and my self-confidence wasn't there. I knew that if I wanted to keep playing, I had to play so well that the coaches couldn't take me out of the lineup."

Stamkos, the Tampa Bay Lightning's sublime sophomore, is having an Ovechkin-like offensive campaign, and Coach Bruce Boudreau knows the Capitals' success -- or failure -- to contain him could determine the outcome of Saturday night's game at St. Pete Times Forum.

"He's definitely the real deal," Boudreau said. "He's going to threaten Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby and Nick Backstrom for scoring titles down the line."

That time could arrive sooner rather than later for Stamkos. With a rare combination of speed, playmaking savvy and a devastatingly accurate one-timer, he entered Friday's games with 42 goals, which ranked behind only Crosby's 45 and Ovechkin's 44. Meanwhile, his 82 points ranks fifth, 14 behind Ovechkin's league-leading total.

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