The newest Calgary Flame is RW Lee Stempniak. Former Blue, Leaf and Coyote, Stempniak exploded onto the scene in 2006-07, scoring 27 goals and 52 points for a lousy Blues team. His unlikely 25+ goal season seemed to hint at a future high-end offensive player.
It wasn’t to be, however. Stempniak rode a 16.3 shooting percentage that season, a rate he has since never repeated. In fact, he has hovered below the 10% mark in most of his years since, outside of an uncanny 18-game run with the Coyotes after leaving the Maple Leafs.
2006-07 stands as Stempniak’s career season as a result. His career point-per-game average is 0.54, or 44 points over an 82 game schedule. He has settled in as competent, if unspectacular middle rotation winger since that sophomore outburst: never playing hard competition and rarely hitting the ball out of the park otherwise. Stempniak can add to the attack to some degree, but is never going to move the needle much otherwise. Third-line and second unit PP is his ideal role.
Stempniak’s underlying numbers from PHX last year are underwhelming. He played against middling competition and had the fourth worst relative possession rate amongst regular Coyote forwards (-4.2/60). To be fair to Stempers, he started out far more often in the defensive zone than most of his teammates (zone start = 42.5%). He also mostly skated with possession black holes like Taylor Pyatt and Vernon Fidller, although the capable Belanger was his center for much of the campaign.
As such, Stempniak will likely settle in with Hagman, Glencross, Jackman and Moss (assuming Mosser doesn’t move to center) somewhere between lines two and four. He might score 20 goals if everything falls into place, but isn’t going to be shutting down high-end players or anything either.
Stempniak is just 28-years old and a player I’ve liked when I’ve seen him in the past. His ticket is low risk at $1.9M for one year, so no complaints there. His addition also suggests Moss could be moved to center a bit more easily. On the other hand, Stempniak also nowhere near replaces what a healthy Langkow brings to the club, but we’ll look at those issues and risks a bit more soon.
For now, welcome to Calgary Lee.