Some tough injury news for the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday as they announced forward Steven Stamkos will undergo a surgical procedure on Monday to repair a core muscle injury.
The injury is expected to sideline him for the next six-to-eight weeks.
Assuming that timeline does not change, that will keep him out for at least the remainder of the 2019-20 regular season and perhaps the early part of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Stamkos, 30, has 66 points (29 goals, 37 assists) in 57 games this season for the Lightning.
After a slow start to the regular season the Lightning have been one of the league’s best and most dominant teams since early November and once again look like one of the top Stanley Cup contenders in the NHL. They entered Saturday’s game against Calgary with the second-best record (by points percentage) in the NHL, trailing only the Boston Bruins.
Stamkos has been one of the league’s best goal-scorers for his entire career and is arguably the second-best pure goal scorer of this era, trailing only Alex Ovechkin.
But for as successful as he has been, he has also had some terrible injury luck that has robbed him of some of his prime seasons.
He missed 45 games during the 2013-14 season due to a broken tibia after scoring 25 goals in 37 games, and then missed 65 games during the 2016-17 season due to a torn meniscus (after nine goals in 17 games). He also missed all but one game of the 2015-16 Stanley Cup Playoffs (that saw the Lightning reach Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals) due to a blood clot issue.
Add half of a lockout shortened season (2012-13; 29 goals in 48 games) to all of that and it’s probably taken close to 100 goals away where he could be at this point in his career.
Since the start of the 2014-15 season the Lightning have been one of the league’s most successful teams, reaching a Stanley Cup Final, two additional Eastern Conference Finals, winning a Presidents’ Trophy, and winning more regular season games (294) than any other team in the league. Their 36 playoff wins during that stretch are also the third most in the league. Stamkos has been at the center of most of that success.