– The Tampa Bay Lightning have selected Steven Stamkos
of the Ontario Hockey League’s Sarnia Sting with the first overall pick at the 2008 NHL Entry Draft in Ottawa.
"We are extremely pleased to have Steven Stamkos
in our organization," Executive Vice President and General Manager Jay Feaster said. "He is the consensus number one pick for a reason - gifted offensively, committed defensively. Great hockey sense and incredible maturity set him on top of this draft class. He will look very good in a Lightning uniform for many years."
"This is the ultimate dream come true for me," Stamkos said. "I’m very excited to join the Tampa Bay Lightning."
Stamkos, a 5-foot-11, 176-pound native of Markham, Ontario, was rated as the consensus top overall pick in this year’s draft, taking place today and tomorrow at Scotiabank Place. Stamkos ranked second in the OHL last season with 58 goals and fifth in points with 197 in 61 games with Sarnia. His nine game-winning goals were tied for second in the OHL, his 23 power-play goals were third and his five shorthanded goals ranked tied for fifth. He scored 11 goals, including four in Game 4 of Sarnia’s first-round match-up with the Windsor Spitfires, in nine games during the 2008 OHL Playoffs.
The 18-year-old was named the OHL’s Player of the Month for February after recording 13 goals and 22 points in 13 games. He was also recognized as the best stick-handler and as having the best shot in the OHL’s annual coaches poll. The center was one of two players born in 1990 named to Canada’s 2008 World Junior Championship team. He recorded a goal and six points in his first appearance at the tournament as Canada went on to capture the gold medal.
Stamkos played in 124 games during his two-season OHL career. He recorded 100 goals and 197 points during his time with Sarnia, including 14 goals and 17 points in 13 career playoff games. In 2006-07 he was the runner-up for the OHL’s Rookie of the Year award behind Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks. He was also honored with the Bobby Smith Trophy as the OHL’s scholastic player of the year. The award is given annually to the player who best combines high standards of play and academic excellence.
Before joining the Sting, Stamkos recorded 105 goals and 197 points in 67 games with the Markham Waxers AAA midget team in 2005. Sarnia drafted Stamkos first overall in the 2006 OHL Priority Draft.
The Lightning won the NHL Draft Drawing and retained the first overall pick in this year’s draft on April 7, 2008 in Toronto. They have seven selections remaining in this year’s draft, including five in the sixth and seventh rounds.
Stamkos is the third player in franchise history to be chosen first overall. Tampa Bay took Roman Hamrlik with the first pick in 1992 and Vincent Lecavalier
with the top pick in 1998.