Tampa's options without Stamkos
How the Lightning can stay competitive without their top player
In the second period of Monday's only NHL match, Steven Stamkos, ever the consummate professional, lost his footing while dutifully backchecking. Stamkos slid hard into the net, with his right shin striking the goalpost. If you are reading this, you probably already know the outcome: The former No. 1 overall pick broke his right tibia and is expected to undergo surgery to correct the damage on Tuesday.
Reports vary, but the expected timeline for his recovery is anywhere from six weeks -- on the very optimistic end -- to next season, on the pessimistic end. If you are prone to happy thoughts, think about Chris Kelly, who broke his tibia in a late-season contest in 2008-09. He returned for the second round of the playoffs. A bit more realistic consideration brings to mind Andrew Ference, who missed close to 10 weeks after blocking a slap shot. Then again, neither had to have surgery, which always adds to the rehabilitation period.
Instead, we can consider Kurtis Foster and Taylor Fedun, who each missed a full season after horrific accidents that left them with shattered femurs. Considering the immediate prognosis, it seems reasonable to expect a best-case scenario in which Stamkos is away from the team until mid-February.
The On-Ice Cost of the Injury
Between Tuesday and mid-February, the Lightning will play another 41 games, exactly half of a regulation NHL season.
Entering the season, Hockey Prospectus' VUKOTA projection system pegged Stamkos for 47 goals and 47 assists, giving him 94 points and 18.6 in goals versus threshold (GVT), a proprietary system that measures a player's value against a replacement-level option. With three GVT equaling one extra standings point, that means we had Stamkos worth an additional six to seven points over a full season more than a typical AHL replacement player.
For more analysis on what the loss of Stamkos means to Tampa Bay, and what the Lightning can do to stay competitive without him, sign up for Insider today.