TAMPA BAY — Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos was injured during the second period of their game with the Boston Bruins. Stamkos crashed into his own net chasing the puck. He suffered a broken tibia in his right leg and is out indefinitely.
This is a crippling loss for the Lightning as Stamkos is the best player on the roster and is currently tied for the lead in points with 23, and most goals with 14.
He may very well be the best player in the NHL not named Sidney Crosby.There is no one on the roster that can duplicate the production of Stamkos, Martin St. Louis is a great winger, but he needs a center to feed him the puck. There are a few players that may be plugged into the first line to help him, Valtteri Flippula and Alex Killorn are two players that may see time at the center position.
One possibility is for the Lightning would be to call up Jonathan Drouin from the AHL and put him on the top line with St. Louis and Killorn. It would solidify the left wing position and give the team some versatility. Drouin would be able to help the offense and they need the production to help their goalie. With Stamkos out, Tampa goalie, Ben Bishop will be counted on more than ever.
Bishop has been stellar this season and needs to keep performing at a Vezina Trophy-level if the Bolts hope to remain competitive in the East, there will be games that he will have to play great in order to compensate for the lack of goals. Tampa general manager Steve Yzerman may be compelled to make a trade to add depth to center. He should just stay put and hope that the team can step up in the meantime until Stamkos comes back.
The best case scenario would be for him to come back in time for the playoffs–if Tampa makes it that far– as there is no guarantee that they will be in the hunt by the time he comes back. There is no way to replace Stamkos, the Bolts will just has to hope for the best.