Temper early expectations of Steven Stamkos in return from knee injury

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This post is part of Lightning Day on PHT…

The Tampa Bay Lightning and the organization’s fans received some promising news last month.

After playing in only 17 games last season due to a knee injury and surgery in November, Steven Stamkos has “no issues,” according to his agent Mark Guy, and is expected to be ready for training camp in September.

Since the 2013-14 season, Stamkos has endured a substantial amount of time out of the Bolts’ lineup.

Prior to his injury last November, he suffered a broken leg that reduced his 2013-14 campaign to 37 games. In April of 2016, he was diagnosed with a blood clot in his arm that required surgery and kept him out of all but one playoff game that year, even as the Bolts made it to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Since the clot was discovered, Stamkos has played in a total of only 18 games, which, given his propensity for scoring goals, has been a significant loss for a team with aspirations of getting back into contention for the East.

But exactly how will Stamkos perform when he does return to game action, following an operation to fix a lateral meniscus tear that came with a recovery window of at least four months?

From the Tampa Bay Times in February:

Just ask Wild wing Zach Parise, who had Stamkos’ surgery to the same knee in November 2010.

“I’d say it took probably a year and a half to get back to feeling back to normal,” Parise said. “That’s what my therapist said, six months to heal, a year you feel better. But to get back to that level for me, I feel like it was almost the following Christmas.”

Everyone heals differently. And not every tear is the same size. But if Stamkos’ recovery is similar to Parise’s, that would mean he might not feel the same until midseason next year. The good news, Parise says, is he hasn’t had any issues with the meniscus in the six seasons since.

Having a healthy Stamkos heading into training camp should provide excitement for the Bolts and their fans. In a perfect world, he would immediately re-discover the scoring touch that makes him such a special player and helps make the Lightning such a dangerous team.

Given this latest injury, surgery, and recovery time, however, it might be wise to temper expectations early on.