Stamkos could be headed for world championship
Nothing is official, and an announcement might not come until next week, but it seems as if Lightning rookie Steven Stamkos could get a chance to play for Canada in the world championship tournament April 24-May 10 in Switzerland.
Stamkos, 19, would join teammate Marty St. Louis. It would be a no-brainer to put them on the same line as their chemistry has been so strong and fast-developing with Tampa Bay.
"To play for your country is huge. It's going to be a great experience for him," Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said. "The learning curve and the maturation process just increases by him going. I think it's terrific."
Stamkos, whose team rookie record 22 goals includes 18 in his past 38 games, said he has not heard anything officially, but said getting chosen would be "pretty special for me. The way things were going, I didn't think I'd get an opportunity. Hopefully, I'll get the chance to go over there and prove I can play at an elite level."
Stamkos has done that in the NHL during the second half of the season. He entered Saturday's games fifth among rookies with 45 points, tied for third with 22 goals and tied for second with nine power-play goals. He also led with 175 shots.
"Listen, the rinks are bigger over there, it's a fast game, I'd take him if I was a coach, for sure," Tocchet said.
"It would be great to play against some of the best players in the world," Stamkos said, adding it would give him a foot in the door toward the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. "Everyone would love to represent their country in the Olympics and this would be a good start."
Other stuff from this morning: Tocchet said he expects to meet soon with GM Brian Lawton about finalizing a new contract and getting the interim label off his title. Lawton has said the two will meet after Tuesday's draft lottery. Tocchet said he has no indication he would not be back next season. "I haven't got any inkling of that. It's more forward in the other direction." Why is the process taking so long? "I just think there's a lot of things going on," Tocchet said. And while he said he would like to see the issue resolved soon, "It's not like something has to be done tomorrow. It's not that pressing." ... Mike McKenna, on his 26th birthday, gets the start in net. ... Tocchet said defenseman Lukas Krajicek is complaining about a stomach virus, and likely will not play tonight. Both Josef Melichar (lower body) and Matt Lashoff (lower body) skated, though it was unclear who would play. ... Krajicek said he has decided not to play in the world championship for the Czech Republic because, "I have some injuries I have to take care of."