I first saw Mark Stone play in the 2012 World Junior Championships when Team Canada won 8-1 against Finland. Stone scored a hat trick that game and was named Canada’s Player of the Game. I remember watching this kid and Googling him because I was curious who the lucky team was that drafted him. Turns out, it was the Ottawa Senators. At the time, I was excited about our prospect. As I've been watching the Ottawa Senators lately, Mark Stone has been impressing me once again. His hard work and hunger for a roster position with the big club has caught my eye.
Stone was born in Winnipeg, MB in 1992 and played his junior hockey with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL, collecting 296 points over his four years there (106 in 2010-11 and 123 in 2011-12). He was drafted 178th overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the Ottawa Senators.
Often scouted as a weak skater, Stone has had to work for every chance he's had with the Ottawa Senators. On March 23rd, Stone was called up (after a few brief stints with the Senators earlier) to replace the injured Bobby Ryan and he looks like he's really trying to prove why he should be on this roster next year. Stone is a power-forward who can put up points – a role that the Ottawa Senators have not filled well. What I like about Stone is his sense around the net. During the Calgary Flames game, for example, I watched the Senators turn the puck over and most of the players headed out of the zone, except Stone. Stone forechecked hard on the Flames defence and turned the puck back over. Since his latest recall, I've noticed this happening a lot. This is good for the Senators who a) don't often forecheck as fast and hard as they should or b) lose battles along the boards, which causes quite a few turnovers. Complementing his ability to forecheck is Stone's strength. At 6'3 and 200 lbs, Stone is a big boy and he's not afraid to throw around his weight, making him hard to play against.
As mentioned, one of the main critiques about Stone has been his skating. In fact, his skating was one of the reasons he was drafted so late. To the credit of the Senators, they did not give up on him (an article in the Ottawa Citizen said the Senators have been impressed by his ability to make things happen at every level he's played in) and I feel that his skating has greatly improved. I watched him win a few foot races the other day and he doesn't look out of place. I actually think Stone is a better skater than quite a few players already in the NHL, some of whom are currently on the Senators roster. His improvements in his skating ability, no doubt, have been due to hard work: a quality I like in a player.
If Stone keeps improving and he can stay healthy (injuries have hurt his season this year), I think Stone has the potential to be quite a nice addition to the Senators roster, potentially next year. Hopefully he has a good camp this summer and we get more of a chance to see him.
If you are interested, you can find the article in from the Ottawa Citizen here: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/sports/Scanlan+This+could+Mark+Stone/9664858/story.html