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Steven Stamkos Is 22 Years Old...And Elite

In case you missed the note in Kevin's Birthsong Project, Steven Stamkos turns 22 years old today. It's easy to forget exactly how young Stamkos is, considering he's already been in the league for three and a half seasons and has become one of the best players in the NHL, so let that sink in for a minute.

Steven Stamkos. Is 22 years old. Man, that makes me feel old.

Since it's his birthday, it seems like an opportune time to put Stamkos's youth and achievements in some perspective. How does Stamkos stack up against other young guns? We know he's one of the best young players in the NHL right now, but are his accomplishments that noteworthy in a historical context?

Uh, that's a no-doubt, emphatic YES. I blame the state of Florida for hiding Stamkos from the hockey world, because his young career is already one of the best of all-time.

Before we delve into the historical comparisons, it's important to note that Stamkos's birthday falls close to the NHL's age cutoff. He was born on February 7, while the NHL bases a player's age for that season on their age on February 1. If Stamkos had been born seven days earlier, this would be considered his age 22 season. But as it is, technically, it's considered his age 21 season.

So although Stamkos hasn't yet finished his age 21 season, he's now 22 years old. How do his stats compare with other players through their age 21 season?

Rk Player GP G A PTS
1 Wayne Gretzky* 239 198 315 513
2 Dale Hawerchuk* 319 175 251 426
3 Jimmy Carson 288 162 163 325
4 Steven Stamkos 294 153 136 289
5 Bob Carpenter 320 145 154 299
6 Mario Lemieux* 215 145 203 348
7 Brian Bellows 311 133 156 289
8 Sidney Crosby 290 132 265 397
9 Craig Simpson 294 128 117 245
10 Jaromir Jagr 311 125 194 319

Full table can be found at Hockey Reference.

Stamkos has the fourth-most goals scored of all-time by the age of 22. Technically, Stamkos will end up higher on this list as he could possibly add another 20 goals over the remainder of this season, putting him as high as second or third. That's cheating slightly, though, as those goals will be scored while Stammer is 22.

If you take assists into the equation, Stamkos doesn't end up looking quite so prolific. He's never been a big assist guy; he will get 40+ per season, but he's no where near the likes of Sidney Crosby (60-80 assists/season) in this regard. But even when ranked by total points, Stamkos is a still-impressive 15th of all-time -- well ahead of the former young star Alexander Ovechkin (No. 36, 198 points).

Scarily enough, though, it gets even better. Stamkos currently has 153 goals, and he has a full season's worth of games to play before he turns 23. There are only three players in NHL history to score more than 200 goals before turning 23: Wayne Gretzky, Dale Hawkerchuk, and Mario Lemieux. Needless to say, all three of these players went on to have spectacular careers and are in the Hall of Fame. Stamkos would have to continue to score at a torrid pace, but considering he's on currently pace for a 50+ goal season, he has a good chance to become the fourth member of this club.

Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin...you guys were great, but it's time to make way for the new young star in the NHL: Steven Stamkos.

Photographs by cstreet.us, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.