Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos knows that in today's NHL, it's not good enough to employ a small group of superstars. To win in the NHL's salary cap era you need depth - quality depth - and lots of it.
The Lightning captain, one of the league's most feared snipers, believes his team has acquired that elusive quality depth in droves in recent seasons.
"You definitely can't have one or two guys to carry a team," Stamkos told Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News on Friday. "You need depth and we're finally seeing that these last couple of years here. The drafting is paying off but the depth that we're acquiring is paying off. Once you have that depth, you can go out and add pieces to that puzzle. The last 2-3 years we've been able to do that and seen it pay off."
It's paid off to such an extent that the Lightning employ a second-line centerman, Tyler Johnson, who has managed more points on the year than Stamkos (so far).
Finding players like Johnson - an undrafted free agent - is key for an organization that initially struggled to properly compliment Stamkos' superstar talent. NHL teams need to nail those later picks if they hope to cash in their high draft picks and legitimately compete for championships.
Stamkos is just enjoying the ride, and hopeful that this group is capable of doing something special.
"It's nice to see the success we've had, the way we've been able to draft and sign free agents and bring guys in," Stamkos said. "This is a place where guys want to play now and it's nice to see."