But on Dec. 1 against the Philadelphia Flyers, Stamkos’ simple set-up pass earned him a spot amongst the NHL’s all-time elite.
The first overall pick in the 2008 draft has come a long way in his NHL career — from injury-prone ‘what-if?’ to two-time Stanley Cup champion and sure-fire Hall of Famer. Now, the 32-year-old also is part of the 1,000-point club following that assist versus Philly.
On Wednesday, Stamkos reflected on his milestone moment and his career overall in an interview on The Jeff Marek Show.
“You have a few wish-list items once you make it to the NHL – the Stanley Cup is on top of every player’s list. But now as the goals and the points accumulate, you start getting into the hundreds, and it’s pretty cool … 1,000 is obviously the benchmark big number,” said Stamkos. “It’s certainly a really cool benchmark accomplishment in this league.
“When you get that many points, obviously you’ve been around the league for a long time, and secondly, you’ve been in a pretty fortunate situation where you played with some amazing players, past and present.”
The Lightning for-lifer leads his franchise in all-time goals (495), all-time points (1,002), and virtually every other scoring statistic, thanks in part to his iconic one-timer.
Though the 15-year NHL veteran has already had a Hall of Fame career’s worth of accomplishments, Stamkos is hungry for more.
“When you’ve had the success that we’ve had, especially the last three years — winning the two Cups, going to the Finals last year — I don’t think people realize how contagious that feeling is, and how that motivates you even more to get back there,” said Stamkos, whose team is coming off three straight Stanley Cup Final appearances.
“When you get to the top, it’s just the most unbelievable feeling. Then it becomes addicting.”
Stamkos has 14 goals and 16 assists in 25 games this season — on pace to be a point-per-game player for the 11th season of his career — and is only five goals away from another major milestone: his 500th goal.
Forty-six players have eclipsed the 500-goal mark, and only two are still active in the NHL: Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby.
Stamkos’ individual achievements are especially impressive considering his injury-plagued history and what he’s had to come back from — missing over 150 games due to injury during his physical prime.
“It’s a tough enough league to produce in when you’re feeling the best … you need to feel confident mentally and physically,” said Stamkos. “When you’re rehabbing or going through some stuff like that, it’s tough mentally … But I’ve put in a lot of hard work … and it’s been paying off.”
Though the Lightning have lost key contributors to their Stanley-Cup-winning teams over the years, Stamkos is confident that his side still has a strong shot at lifting the mug for a third time in four seasons come June.
“All the emotions come out to play in the playoffs, and our team has felt comfortable in those moments,” said Stamkos. “We’ve risen to the occasion, and it wouldn’t surprise me if we did that again this year.”