A Closer Look at Lee Stempniak



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.

  • Vintage Flame

    Did I hear right that Feaster said he can help out on the penalty kill as well as other things.

    Did he not look at the stats?

    Lee Stempniak had a total of 2:36 of ice time when shorthanded last year for Phoenix.

    Its not like the Coyotes were great at the PK either. Ranked 26th.

    He had even less time killing penalties the year before between Toronto and Phoenix

  • Oyo

    My hope is that we keep OMG together for heavy lifting and just toss stemps on LW with stajan and bourque on 3rd line. Stajan is play maker and has two shooters. Makes sense to me so they hopefully can beat up third liners.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    I only have one philosophy when drafting in NHL fantasy pools – NO LEAFS. There exists no team in any sport who’s entire roster is so over-rated. In the last 3 seasons we’ve seen 4 ex-Leaf’s and Stempniak makes 5. My bet is we will be 0 in 5 in successful fits.

    I hate this deal.

  • mayhemsince1977

    This is a perfect example of how hockey is like real life…

    In a few weeks, my yard will be covered in leaves (Leafs). I can’t leave them on the ground, the garbage men won’t take them, I can’t burn them (my neighbour was just fined for that), and if I take them to the dump (I need to pay them?). The only option I have is to pile them into a corner a hope they slowly blow away.

  • Realistically I don’t think this is that bad in the long term. And let’s be serious, we should be looking at the long-term picture because it’s going to take a miracle for this team to challenge for much outside of a 1st round playoff birth. First off, it saves the team a whack of cash and allows for flexibility if they do decide to make any other moves this season. There is no long-term commitment to Stempniak as he becomes a UFA at season’s end. Best case scenario, he fits in as a competent 3rd line winger and nets 15-20 goals this season.

    Sure, the Flames lose a solid even-strength guy in Langkow…but remember, they spent all but 4 games of last season without him. So what is the big difference from 2010-11 to 2011-12? Not much except the addition of (hopefully) 15-20 goals from Stempniak.

  • Michael

    Still a little puzzled by the move, we loose another key defensive player and add another
    third line guy to a team loaded with them.

    We might well have the best middle of the roaster depth, but no real first line and no one to shut down the opposition’s top line. (the loss of Langkow and Regehr can’t help Kipper)

    It’s interesting to see the Flames enter training camp $3 – $4 million below the cap. Is Feaser driving this, or is he responding to King and or the owners to spend less? (this would recover the money spent on putting Kotalik in the minors last year).

    I would be surprised to see the Flames stay well below the cap until at least the trade deadline. With all the money coming off the books next year, I think Feaster wants to make a major splash, and go after one of the potential big name UFA’s.

    • MC Hockey

      Regarding the loss of Langkow’s talents, I think Brendan Morrison can replace Langkow’s productionly defensively, offensively, and intelligence-wise and he’s only half a year older and much cheaper. I do think the owners asked Feaster to spend less as they anticipate no playoff revenues and YES this move DOES keep Flames open for going after Shea Weber and other key free agents next July 1st (2012).

  • Michael

    The Flames are worse with Stempniak then there were with Langkow. That is assuming Langkow is going to return to form and Stempniak doesn’t have an unexpected breakout.

    The Flames had too many centres. Especially if they plan on using Moss at centre. However, both Morrison and Moss can play wing so I don’t think they did this just to dump a centre.

    This only makes sense if either:

    a) They don’t feel Langkow will return to form.
    b) Ownership wants the team to spend less
    c) Feaster is looking to do something with the cap space.

    At least we didn’t lose the trade. Stempniak is good value for Langkow given his age, injury history, and salary.

  • MC Hockey

    Umm, Stajan, Hagman and Stempniak were all cast off of the 2008 to late season 2010 Leafs. The 2008-2009 Leafs finished 26th overall, the late 2010 Leafs were also out of the playoffs by my recollection when the Phaneuf trade went down. While I am generally sympathetic to the idea that you might find a bargain on a good player from a bad team whose stats are depressed, maybe we should look at some OTHER bad teams besides those Toronto ones.

    I see this as two facets. One, they had to dump a centre, especially as it appeared that Moss was going to move back to centre. I see Moss in Langkow’s role going forward – or at least I hope he can pull that off.

    Also, it’s a salary dump – although they don’t have so much room that they could take on more salary so I am ambivalent on that point. If Langkow had been picked as the guy to go, Phoenix was probably one of the few destinations he would waive his NTC to go to so that probably brought down the return as well.

    Tough to see Langkow go. He had one of the best playoff beard’s of all time and if he is wearing it in Phoenix next April I will be happy for him, but sad for the Flames.

  • RKD

    I have a feeling Stemp will score more than 19 this year. His best production totals have come in a contract year.

    Heck, even at 44 points he might have more than Langs. Langs missed nearly the whole season, and is 35 years old.

  • Better now? Langkow was the only centre who could play against the toughs and contribute offensively. He isn’t the guy he was a few years ago but who can effectively fill his role? This is a step back even if the thought is for Backlund and Moss to be 1C and 2C.

    Maybe B-Mo is big in the plans for the Flames. Seems like a strange idea if they are banking on an old guy with bum knees having a second resurgence season in a row.

    If the Flames want to fight for a playoff spot this year this is a dumb move. Almost as dumb as dumping Reggie for magic beans.

    Better for the future? Langkow’s cap hit was off the books next year. The Flames have lots of cap space next year so why sacrifice this year to get space that you were getting next year anyway? Why not ride out the last year. If the playoffs are in doubt a team with injury issues or needing some depth down the middle might give you something for him at the deadline.

    Dumb dumb dumb.

  • I am an impartial viewer from Edmonton and I think the deal was good, Lanks had not played at all for over year…Stempniak is cheaper,maybe crappier but most important is readily dumpable if he does not work out.
    Looking at your forwards its a list of “If’s” If the ugliest swede in the world(Ollie) repeats his second half performance of last year ,If the flukey french winger(Tanguay) decides to try to have 2 consistant years in a row…If the true blue Leaf (Stajan) tries to actually play like he is in the NHL rather then the KHL… Calgary’s playoff hopes are totally based on huge If’s and lets not even discuss Boumeester, the 7 million dollar defensive specialist. I think the Flames are starting to resemble the 2007 Oilers…a team of too many 2nd and 3rd liners who are slated to be first liners.