TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed center Steven Stamkos to a three-year, entry-level contract today, vice president of hockey operations Brian Lawton announced today at a press conference at Bear Mountain Resort in Victoria, British Columbia. Stamkos is currently attending the Lightning’s prospect camp in Victoria.
“It is with great pleasure that we formally announce the signing of Steven today,” Lawton said. “It is obvious to all of our staff in a brief period of time that Steven is a very special young man with great potential. His work ethic and eagerness to learn have been very impressive. We believe with our veteran leadership that Tampa Bay is the perfect scenario for Steven to grow and mature as a player and person on and off the ice.”
Stamkos, a 6-foot-1, 196-pound native of Markham, Ontario, was rated as the consensus top overall pick in this year’s draft and was subsequently selected first overall by Tampa Bay. Stamkos ranked second in the Ontario Hockey League last season with 58 goals and fifth in points with 197 in 61 games with the Sarnia Sting. 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.
Stamkos was 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.