Early in the second period last night, Tampa Bay Lightning superstar Steven Stamkos wheeled around and fired a wrist shot from just above the hashmarks, beating Washington goalie Braden Holtby through a crowd of Caps. It marked Stamkos' 250th career goal and at the age of 24 years and 305 days, 'Stammer' became the 10th-youngest player in NHL history to achieve the mark. The list of players ahead of him is impressive:
1. Wayne Gretzky - 22 years, 28 days
2. Mario Lemieux - 23 years, 77 days
3. Dale Hawerchuk - 23 years, 289 days
4. Alex Ovechkin - 24 years, 126 days
5. Pierre Turgeon - 24 years, 199 days
6. Steve Yzerman - 24 years, 222 days
7. Jimmy Carson - 24 years, 241 days
8. Mike Bossy - 24 years, 275 days
9. Michel Goulet - 24 years, 302 days
10. Steven Stamkos - 24 years, 305 days
He actually bumped Jaromir Jagr off the list, with the future Czech Hall of Famer coming in a week later at 24 years and 312 days, so yeah – heady company. But I would posit to you that Stamkos actually gets shorted a bit in this honor.
As you will surely notice, the majority of players on the list did their torching in the 1980s, when goaltending was wretched and firewagon hockey was the name of the game. If you take into consideration the era – which this site does via "adjusted" stat totals in the miscellaneous section – and how many goals were scored overall versus today, Stamkos looks even better. He actually would have hit 250 goals at around the same time as Gretzky, who knew a thing or two about putting the puck in the net.
Now there is certainly a can of worms to be opened here. For instance, Ilya Kovalchuk, whose NHL career began in the dead puck era, also would have breached the 250 goal mark slightly earlier had he played in a more fortuitous time and might have made the top 10 list.
Stamkos and Kovalchuk have something else in common, too: Both were robbed of time by NHL-mandated lockouts. 'Kovy' lost the entire 2004-05 campaign and the erstwhile Thrasher was just 21 at the time. I'm sure the Capitals would have loved to have Alex Ovechkin one season earlier too at that time, so his race to 250 could have been shorter, as well. Meanwhile, Stamkos lost half a season in 2012-13 for the same reason. So 'Stammer' hypothetically could have been higher on this list, perhaps besting his current boss in Lightning GM Steve Yzerman (You could argue that Stamkos' broken leg last year was another hindrance, but that was just bad luck and could have happened at any time to anyone - it wasn't structural like the lockout).
In the grand scheme of things, Stamkos is in some incredible company here, no matter where his name rests in the final rankings. But if you ever wondered how good he is compared to a group comprised of more Hall of Famers than not, the answer so far is "comparable."