Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos scored his 500th career goal on Wednesday against the Vancouver Canucks. The Lightning captain did it in style as he added two more in the game for his 11th career hat trick.
Stamkos is only the third active skater to score 500 goals, following Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin found himself putting his own major stamp in the hockey history books earlier this season with a hat trick as he scored career goals 798, 799, and 800 against the Chicago Blackhawks on December 13.
After Stammer reached the big milestone, The Athletic’s Joe Smith polled fellow 500 goal scorers for their thoughts on Stamkos.
One of the more interesting responses came from Jeremy Roenick who decided to put down Ovechkin to praise Stamkos. It went exactly as you would expect.
“[Stamkos] has that speed, that talent, that ability to create, because of his talent and his brain,” Roenick said. “I can’t say the same thing about Ovechkin. Would Ovechkin be where he is today if he didn’t play with (Nicklas Backstrom) his whole career? Probably not. He’s the best goal scorer I’ve ever seen, but when I look at someone as multi-dimensionally dangerous as Stamkos, he makes other players better around him.”
Roenick admits that he believes Ovechkin is the greatest goal-scorer of all time but that he wouldn’t be where he is today without playing with Nicklas Backstrom. He also seems to suggest Stamkos is a better leader and makes others better.
Besides the fact that Roenick missed that Ovechkin has not regularly played with Backstrom for over six seasons, it would take one look at Ovechkin’s stats this season to prove that his statement is incorrect. At the age of 37, Ovechkin is on pace to record 52 goals and his second-consecutive 90-point season. He has touched the ice with Backstrom for a grand total of 31:22 of ice time in five games and scored zero times in those minutes.
The basis of Roenick’s argument seems to be that Stamkos is a better playmaker than Ovechkin. But even that’s a stretch. Ovechkin has 652 career assists which rank 10th overall since he entered the NHL in 2005-06.
Since entering the NHL in 2005-06, Ovechkin's 650 assists rank 10th in the NHL. In that same span, Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals with 810, holding a 272-goal lead over the next-closest player.
— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) January 17, 2023
Ovechkin has 130 more apples than Stamkos in three more seasons after entering the NHL three years earlier than the Bolts captain. Stamkos has averaged 35 assists per season during his 15 years in the NHL, meaning if we gave him three more seasons worth of assists — 105 more to his current 522 total — he’d still have less apples than Ovi (652 to 602). Stamkos does hold the edge in assists per game at 0.54 to Ovechkin’s 0.49, but he’s also been much less durable than Ovi. This seems to suggest Ovechkin is as good or a better playmaker than Stammer.
One more point. Over the past three seasons, Stamkos has seen the ice with Nikita Kucherov for over 764 minutes. In the same timeframe, Ovechkin and Backstrom shared the ice for 69 fewer minutes. During that stretch, Kucherov has 133 points in 90 games played and Backstrom has 86 points in 107 games. One could actually make the argument that Stamkos has benefitted more from playing with Kucherov than Ovechkin has with Backstrom.
Simply, there is a reason why every big Stamkos statistic comes with some sort of “not named Alex Ovechkin” qualifier. Someone should let Mr. Roenick know.
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