When the Tampa Bay Lightning chose to buy out center Vincent Lecavalier‘s contract earlier this summer, a leadership vacancy opened up. Immediately, speculation began as to who would inherit the captaincy from the veteran forward.
There are a couple of potential options for the Lightning here, one of which has three years remaining on a five-year contract and should be extended before too long. Steven Stamkos could likely be looked at as the front runner, while Martin St. Louis is also a worthy candidate.
Even though a nagging shoulder injury limited Stamkos’ production down the stretch in 2013, he still found a way to step up when the Lightning needed it most. Remember April 9 against the Ottawa Senators? With under five minutes remaining and the game tied at two, he scored a very important power play goal to essentially give his team the win. Or what about Jon Cooper‘s NHL coaching debut against the always dangerous New Jersey Devils? He tallied two goals and an assist to help turn a 4-2 third period deficit into a 5-4 shootout win.
An obstacle to Stamkos taking the “C” from Lecavalier is St. Louis, who at 37 years old (he turned 38 in June) became the oldest player ever to win the Art Ross Trophy. He’s won a championship (2004), and came up huge in helping them advance to Game 7 of the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals. That’s valuable for a young, rebuilding team like Tampa Bay.
No matter what, it’ll likely come down to Stamkos or St. Louis for the vacancy. Given how long Stamkos should be with the team, it’s likely he’ll get the captaincy as the face of the franchise, while St. Louis remains an alternate. And that’s probably the right move as the Lightning begin a new era.