The scene, a playoff game against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
On Mark Stone’s very first shift in the NHL, he made a soft, yet perfect 20 foot pass that not only burned one, but two Ranger defender’s, and right on tape mind you of a surging Jason Spezza who was heading for the net and scored in a 2-0 win in Game 5.
That ultimate feed from Stone was his first professional point that opened eyes that otherwise had doubts facing from the then 20-year-old rookie as most fan’s on the Senators side hoped for a series win that night at MSG in the spring of 2012. What a splash.
Binghamton Senators 22-year-old Mark Stone has a good shot at making the big club out of training camp this September as the 6’2 right-winger is entering the last year of a three-year entry-level deal that has some online database’s already listing him as a member of the Ottawa Senators for the upcoming 2014-’15 season.
Last season he appeared in 37 contests for the B-Sens, potting 15 biscuits along with 26 assists which saw an increase over his previous season highs of 15 goals and 23 assists, but in 54 games in 2012-’13 tilts the season before, and having moderate success in Ottawa with 4 goals and 4 assists in 19 tilts.
He ended up completing the regular season up in Ottawa and was sent down to Binghamton for the AHL post season only to have the B-Sens repeat from the previous season in losing again to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in Round I. Stone had a goal and three assist in the four game series sharing the team lead of a point per game with the recent departed forward Stephane Da Costa. His rep as a slow, choppy skater has improved but makes up for it in his ability to touch the puck on breakouts and smart visual readings and on ice settings to give him an edge otherwise.
Success Was Stone’s In The WHL in 2011-’12
Mark was a 6th round draft pick in 2010 out of Winnipeg, Manitoba as he tore up in the WHL for four seasons playing for the Brandon Wheat Kings from 2008-’12. His first two seasons he combined for 28 goals and 29 assists in 95 regular season games. Mark broke out in his third year for the Kings having netted 37 goals and 69 assists in 71 contests. In his fourth season he displayed his finest offensive talent scoring 41 goals and 82 assists in 66 games with a +45 while adding six points in eight games in the playoffs. He was signed to the standard three-year entry-level contract in 2011 one year removed from the draft at 19 years of age.
Recognition was his in that final year for the Kings. Not only did he capture the Plus/Minus Award (shared with Brendan Shinnimin) and the Brad Hornung Trophy, Mark earned a spot on the East First All Star Team and was named Sportsmanlike Player Of The Year.
In the after-mention in 2012 playing for Canada in the WJC, he played in 6 games while netting 7 tally’s and 3 helpers.
He also faced his older brother Michael in the Memorial Cup’s post season in the 2009-’10 season, where he was held scoreless in five games where his brother had two assists in four games playing defense in the Calgary Hitman’s 4-1 series win in the Conference Final’s, and eventually leading to their WHL Championship that season.
Micheal was a fixture of the Phoenix Coyotes last season playing in 70 games while producing 21 points and will be entering his second season of a three-year, $3,450,000 contract.
Great Intensity As Stone Leads The Way
As many Binghamton fan’s have seen with Stone’s playing time in the Southern Tier of NY, he likes to express his direction and in the process placing his line-mates on an ensuing face-off, or giving advice on the bench afterwards. I get this read as Stone has the right attitude that will someday make him a successful hockey coach. Whether it’s in the NHL or otherwise, his hockey sense is very high bar none, and it shows on the ice.
Stone fits that mold as he tells Ken Warren of the Ottawa Citizen;
“I feel like I need to dominate when I’m out on the ice and show I can play at the next level,” Stone said about taking part in his fifth development camp this week with the Senators. “When it comes right down to it, if people can see the things I’ve gone through from my first development camp to my fifth, I’m just trying to show that I’ve become better over time.”
In The End, Will He Eventually Avoid The Injury Bug?
In suffering a shoulder injury in the B-Sens season opening night contest against Syracuse and the result of him missing 6 games, Stone returned in early November and was inserted centering winger’s David Dziurzynski and Darren Kramer creating an effective energy line on the fourth line. Soon after Luke Richardson worked his way up to the first line by the end of November with Da Costa and Mike Hoffman. Come playoffs it was Matt Puempel, Da Costa, and Stone.
Stone was recalled on New Year’s Eve from Binghamton and suffered an upper body injury, which landed him on the injured reserve list on January 2oth, which resulted in him falling against the boards in practice missing eight games.
Mark has good hands and is quick and accurate from close range, which fuels his hockey IQ as he rushes towards the cage anticipating a potential goal. One thing he doesn’t do often is getting in the corners, which is fine if he has the right line mates that can cover. Stone has smarts with the puck as he seeks out his linemates making the perfect pass setting up as his hockey IQ is often talked about.
You can just see it when watching him play that he reads the opposition well while getting into positional play. His foot speed is lacking but otherwise makes up for it with his quick thinking with the puck. Stone lacks the grittiness required with little physical upside despite his big frame, which he has addressed along with his skating as he continues to workout in Ottawa during the off season.