Moving up one spot from last year, Mark Stone finds himself at #9 on our list.
By now Sens fans are all familiar with his story: limited by injuries (concussion, broken finger) during his draft year, Stone put up 28 points that the season, allowing the Sens to draft him in the sixth round, 178th overall in 2010. Healthy during his final two years in junior, Stone exploded offensively: he scored 37 goals and 106 points in 71 games in 2010-11 and 41 goals and 123 points in 66 games in 2011-12 for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL. While he started to get noticed by Sens fans during his time with Brandon, it was his selection to the 2012 Canadian World Junior Team that brought Stone to the attention of those around the league. Putting up a hat-trick in the first game of the World Juniors, Stone finished the tournament leading Team Canada in goals (7) and points (10).
It was at this point in his career that Stone was featured in the Winter 2012 version of Silver Seven's Top 25 Under 25 at #10. Here's what resident prospect expert Bobby Kelly had to say about him last year:
"As understandably amped as Sens fans are about Stone's emergence, there is no rush. He has exhibited a desirable skill-set: his goals come in dirty areas, he has quick hands, a hard shot and a physical presence. Before we label him as the next late-round superstar, Stone needs the opportunity to smooth out the rougher edges of his game. His future on this team is not in the coming season, but two or three down the road."
So what has Stone done since then?
The 6'3" 200 pound winger finished the 2011-12 season a First Team All-Star and was awarded the Brad Hornung Trophy as the most sportsmanlike player in the WHL. His junior career ended abruptly when the Wheat Kings were swept by the eventual WHL champion Edmonton Oil Kings in the Conference Semifinals. Brandon's loss was Ottawa's gain, as Stone's early finish allowed him to join the Senators during the team's first round playoff series against the New York Rangers. Stone made his NHL debut on April 21, 2012 as he lined-up alongside Jason Spezza for his first taste of NHL hockey in Game 5. Stone even assisted on Spezza's goal - the eventual game winner.
Stone joined Binghamton for the 2012-13 season. While players like Jakob Silfverberg quickly established themselves as the offensive leaders of the club, Stone's start in Bingo has been a bit slower. Injured for a few games in the fall, Stone is currently out of the lineup with a broken finger. He sits fourth in team scoring (of players still left in Bingo) with 8 goals and 19 points in 35 games. But fans accustomed to his WHL totals need not worry. I asked Bobby for an assessment of Stone's time in the AHL:
"Stone's season started off with him mostly showing off his passes. He hung around on the perimeter a little too often, but had been adjusting and transitioning as the year went on. I would say it's both part of his transition and probably some stress that Richardson and the organization are putting on improving his defensive game. His two-way ability and his foot speed remain the things the team wants him to improve on most- we know he can score."
It seems like Stone is getting every opportunity to round out his game in the AHL and work on the aspects of his game (skating) that still need work despite the improvements he's made. In other words, it's just like Bobby predicted last year.
Ultimately, Stone remains high on the prospect list because the qualities he possesses (size and great hands) can't be taught and the deficiencies in his game (skating) can be (just ask John Tavares).