About a week ago, Callum shared a chart in his article looking at the combination of Smith, Brassard, and Stone. Here’s what it looked like:
An interesting thing stuck out to me right away: all of the combos in the “good” half of the chart feature Mark Stone. This chart only featured lines with at least 50 minutes together, so some players are underrepresented. Still, it gives us a very clear idea: Stone can turn every line he’s on into a good line.
There’s no question about Stone’s skill, at least for Senators fans. He’s on pace to be the team’s top-scoring forward for his third year in a row. He’s set to lead the league in takeaways for the third season in a row. And he’s only in his third season. He’s been a dominant player pretty much since he’s arrived.
But more than that, he makes the players around him better. Derick Brassard, a good player on his own, sees a significant upswing in all his possession stats when Stone shows up. He goes from getting 52% of the 5v5 shots on his own to getting 58% with Stone. The same thing keeps happening as you go down the roster. In fact, Stone gets more than 50% of the 5v5 shot attempts with every linemate he’s played at least 30 minutes with this season except for Cody Ceci. Stone passes 50% without every single one of those teammates, but only one of those teammates hits 50% without Stone: the aforementioned Brassard. In other words, nobody drags Stone down, but he can drag anybody up. Good players like Brassard and Mike Hoffman get better with him, while middling players like Zack Smith and Jean-Gabriel Pageau get way better with him. Even players who tend to get shelled like Chris Kelly are brought well up by Stone.
If you’re not a big fan of possession stats, we can look at straight-forward scoring stats too. Brassard was put on a line with Stone for the first time on November 17. Before that point, he had six points in 16 games. Since then, he’s had 15 points in 26 games. Zack Smith joined that pair on December 17, and he’s scored 11 points in 10 games since then. Before that he had eight points in 30 games. Last season Smith had 25 goals, 16 of them in the 36 games after he got put on Stone’s line.
I think you get the picture: everyone gets better with Stone. Good players become great, average players become good, bad players become passable. There’s been a lot of talk about chemistry, and our own Colin4000 has even worked on quantifying it in chart form. But I don’t think chemistry begins to do it justice when it comes to Mark Stone. He has the ability to turn any line he’s on into the first line. It’s like he can turn anything to gold, hence the alchemy reference in the title. Stone is a very special player, and I think he’s criminally underrated league-wide. But with him due for an extension after next season, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.