It’s one thing for Steven Stamkos to be praised by his own head coach and Tampa Bay Lightning teammates, but quite another to be recognized by his peers.
But on Wednesday, that’s just what Stamkos was.
For the second consecutive year, the Lightning forward was named as one of three finalists for the Ted Lindsay Award, which is annually given to the top player in the league as voted on by members of the National Hockey League Players’ Association.
Stamkos, who led the league with 60 goals this past season and also finished second in league scoring with 97 points, is also a finalist for the Hart Trophy as the NHL MVP voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.
Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin and New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist join Stamkos as fellow finalists for both the Hart and Ted Lindsay Award, with one winner to be named at the NHL Awards Show in Las Vegas on Jun. 20.
Stamkos congratulated by his teammates after scoring his NHL-leading 60th goal of the season.
The nomination is not only indicative of what type of season the 22-year-old forward enjoyed, but also of Stamkos’ reputation in the league as perceived by his peers.
Take, for instance, this past January at the 2012 NHL All-Star Game in Ottawa when Stamkos received high praise from Detroit Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk for being one of the up and coming young stars in the game.
It appears Stamkos did all in his power to reaffirm those sentiments, becoming just the first player to score at least 60 goals since Alex Ovechkin in 2007-08 and just the 20th in the history of the NHL.
While some media voters often believe a player whose team does not qualify for the playoffs should not be considered among the finalists named for an MVP award, those exact circumstances did little to sway the players’ vote.
Stamkos finished tied for first in the league with 12 game-winning goals, a new Lightning record, and also saw five of those come in overtime, which set a new NHL all-time mark. By scoring 60 goals to capture his second Rocket Richard Trophy in the past three seasons, he became just the seventh player in NHL history to score at least 50 goals twice before his 23rd birthday.
“There is no doubt that Stammer had an MVP season,” teammate Martin St. Louis said.
And judging by the nomination, there’s no doubt a few other NHL players agreed.