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THN.com Blog: Stamkos contract talks and Letang for the Norris

Steven Stamkos' 21 goals leads the league by three. (Getty Images)

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Steven Stamkos' 21 goals leads the league by three. (Getty Images)

Some Monday musings for your dining and dancing pleasure:

ALL QUIET ON STAMKOS FRONT

As of Monday afternoon, there are no talks scheduled to take place on a contract extension between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the representatives for Steven Stamkos.

That’s a little odd, considering the Lightning are in Toronto for a game against the Maple Leafs Tuesday night and Stamkos’ agents, Mark Guy and Don Meehan, are based in Toronto.

That could all change rather quickly and Tampa GM Steve Yzerman could pick up the phone shortly after the Lightning’s plane lands Monday night. However, nothing is scheduled; in fact, the two sides haven’t had any communication since Yzerman and assistant GM Julien BriseBois had a short meeting with Meehan after the GM meetings in Toronto in early November.

SEVEN GOALS AND…100 POINTS?

That Vancouver Canucks center Henrik Sedin is on pace to record a second straight 100-point season is not a huge surprise. What might surprise you, though, is that he’s on pace for just seven goals.

Yup, seven goals. In fact, should H. Sedin continue on his current scoring pace, he would record by far the lowest goal total of any 100-point scorer in league history. That mark is 22 and is currently shared by Brian Leetch, who set the mark in 1991-92 with 22-80-102 totals and Joe Thornton, who matched it with a 22-92-114 scoring line in 2006-07.

Sedin, as we all know, won the scoring championship and the Hart Trophy last season on the strength of a career-high 29 goals. It turns out the main reason he scored so much was that twin brother Daniel missed 19 games and Henrik got a little more selfish, in a good way.

Henrik, by the way, is poised to record the 600th point of his career when the Canucks visit the Calgary Flames Wednesday night. We’re betting it will come on an assist on a goal by Daniel.

GOALIE WOES IN TAMPA

The next order of business for Yzerman in the rebuild of the Lightning is upgrading for the long term in goal.

That’s because the goaltending they have right now simply isn’t cutting it. In fact, you could argue the Lightning’s goaltending is the main obstacle that stands in the way of them being a legitimate contender.

It’s obvious the Lightning have star power and some of the most dynamic forwards in the league. Their defense, while not great, is certainly adequate at the NHL level. In fact, their 27.6 shots allowed per game is the second-best mark in the league.

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But the Lightning look horrible defensively, largely because their goaltenders can’t seem to make crucial saves. The Lightning have given up four more goals than they’ve scored and have the second-worst goals-against average in the league.

Goalies Mike Smith and Dan Ellis, meanwhile, are near the bottom of almost every statistical category in the league. Neither one has made enough of a good impression to get the starter’s job and both have faltered when given the chance.

The good news from the Lightning’s perspective is that Smith becomes an unrestricted free agent after this season and Ellis is signed only through 2012 at a very affordable $1.5 million per season.

The bad news is that after the Lightning sign Stamkos to a monster deal, is there going to be any money left to go after a quality NHL goaltender?

LETANG FOR LE-NORRIS?

One player who seems to be left out of all the Norris Trophy talk is Pittsburgh Penguins defender Kris Letang.

And that’s a shame. Not only has Letang continued to be a force offensively, there might not be a defenseman who is more improved in his own end. Despite having a size deficit against a good number of forwards in the NHL, Letang wins a surprising number of puck battles in the corners and along the boards and has a much-improved grasp on defensive zone coverage.

 

Ken Campbell, author of the book Habs Heroes, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog will appear every Monday throughout the season.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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