TAMPA — When you're an elite goal scorer like C Steven Stamkos, who do you ask for pointers?
A Hall of Famer, of course.
Stamkos, 25, has joined a growing list of NHL stars to hire Adam Oates as a consultant this season. The Capitals' Alex Ovechkin, the Wild's Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, and the Oilers' Teddy Purcell are also among Oates' clients.
Stamkos had one of his best seasons when Oates was a Lightning assistant in 2009-10, scoring 51 goals. The two have kept in touch, but with Oates out of coaching this season, it's the first time they've worked so closely since. Oates visited before and after the Lightning's game against the Rangers on Thursday.
"Not too many people know the details of the game quite as good as 'Oatesy,' " said Stamkos, who has a team-leading 11 goals, with two in Saturday's 5-0 win over the Ducks.
"Obviously, a Hall of Famer player really understands the little things."
Oates, 52, was one of the game's best playmakers, the center racking up 1,079 career assists over 19 seasons 1985-2004. He spent two years as the Capitals' coach, from 2012-14, and was co-head coach for the Devils last season.
Stamkos didn't want to get into specifics about what he and Oates discuss. But whether it's going over video or talking the game, Oates can provide subtle insights that "the average guy doesn't see." One example, Stamkos said, is the position and curve of a stick and how it can help a player get the puck off the boards or make a play without looking down.
"Fortunately, he likes my curve," Stamkos said, smiling. "You're just trying to get better. As a player in this game, it's hard enough as it is to try to figure it out by yourself. He's been helping that way."
FAMILIAR FACE: Assistant coach Brad Lauer coached against the Ducks on Saturday for the first time since Anaheim fired him in the offseason. He holds no ill will.
"I had a great four years there. We did some special things, had a special group," Lauer said. "I enjoyed it. It was great for my career as a coach, good experience. I don't really have anything bad to say. Our business is a business, and changes are made, and you live with them, you get better as a coach and as a person, and you move on."
Nobody was happier to see Lauer land with the Lightning than Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. "Good people, you really like to see them get right back in the door," he said. "(Lauer) wouldn't have gotten that opportunity if he wasn't a real good person or real good coach."
MEDICAL MATTERS: RW Ryan Callahan (lower body) returned to the lineup, with C Mike Angelidis and RW Mike Blunden scratched. LW Jonathan Drouin (undisclosed) and C Cedric Paquette (upper body) participated in the optional morning skate wearing red no-contact jerseys. C Tyler Johnson (upper body) was in a regular jersey and is still day to day.
NUTS AND BOLTS: D Victor Hedman purchased a suite for six home games this season to benefit bay area organizations. Sixteen people from Metropolitan Ministries attended Saturday's game. "It's exciting," Hedman said. … G Ben Bishop will greet fans for photos and autographs from 1:30-3:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Florida Blue Center, 201 N. West Shore Blvd., Tampa, to benefit Metropolitan Ministries.