The NHL 500-goal club welcomed a new member on Wednesday night as Lightning superstar Steven Stamkos scored his 500th career goal 4:40 into his team’s contest against the Vancouver Canucks. Stamkos became the 46th member of the exclusive club, tying Lanny McDonald for 46th all-time on the NHL’s all-time scoring list.
The former 60-goal man didn’t stop there, however, as Stamkos went on to bury his 501st and 502nd goals in the contest for his 11th career hat trick. He also became the eighth player in NHL history to score his 500th goal as part of a hat trick, as per NHL Stats. His 502 career goals tie him with American Joe Mullen for 45th all-time while the hat-trick effort led the Lightning to a 5-2 victory in Vancouver.
“It’s such a humbling experience when you have a moment like that and you get to celebrate it with your teammates, who are genuinely as excited as you are,” Stamkos said according to NHL.com. “I’m so thankful for them.”
⚡️ 500 strikes of Stammer ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/S7AvjVrUtD— NHL (@NHL) January 19, 2023
With the victory, the Lightning improved to 29-13-1 on the season. They’re now just two points back of the Toronto Maple Leafs for second place in the Atlantic Division while sporting two games in hand. Their .686 points percentage sits second in the Atlantic, as does their plus-33 goal differential.
The Lightning are always again the salary cap, the simple cost of doing business when your end goal is to win the Stanley Cup every season. As a result, we often see plenty of high-caliber players headed elsewhere each summer as Tampa continues to churn out high-quality talent from within while retaining their superstars on long-term, lucrative contracts.
That’s not to say general manager Julien BriseBois will sit on his hands come deadline time. Salary cap gymnastics are a part of every GM’s job whether or not you’re contending. In BriseBois’ chair, it’s an essential part of everyday business.
We’ve seen Tampa go out and acquire key depth players in the Blake Coleman, Nick Paul, and Barclay Goodrow molds over the years. Sometimes these players are too costly to keep on new contracts, but they’ve played essential roles in the club’s postseason success in recent seasons.
While their key players remain among the league’s best and in their prime, the Lightning will always be trade-deadline buyers while the term “stay pat” remains far from their vocabulary.
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