2018-19 Player Review: Mark Stone is as good as advertised

The recently-acquired forward may have been Vegas’ best in the 25 games he’s played in the desert.

In the 2018-19 Player Review series, we will evaluate the 2018-19 performances of each member of the Golden Knights. Players were evaluated based on overall performance in both the regular season and playoffs, especially with regard to pre-season expectations and how that player performed in his particular role.

Forward Mark Stone was acquired by the Vegas Golden Knights from the Ottawa Senators at the 2019 NHL trade deadline in exchange for Erik Brannstrom, Oscar Lindberg and a 2020 second-round pick. After a long year full of trade rumors and seeing the departure of star teammates Erik Karlsson, Mike Hoffman and Matt Duchene, Stone was perhaps the biggest acquisition of them all.

Stone played in 25 games for the Golden Knights between the regular season and postseason, scoring 23 points while playing steady minutes with Max Pacioretty and Paul Stastny. Unlike Tomas Tatar, the player the Golden Knights traded for at last year’s deadline, Stone did not disappoint.

Season in review

Stone scored 11 points in 18 games in the regular season and 12 points in seven playoff games as a member of the Golden Knights. This season, he had a grand total of 73 points in 77 games between the Senators and Knights.

Stone is a finalist for the Selke this season, given to the best defensive forward in the league. If Stone wins the award, he will be the first winger to have done so since Jere Lehtinen in 2003. That speaks to how excellent, on two teams, Stone has been this season as a two-way presence.

But Stone was more than just an excellent performer in his own end. He had one of the best offensive seasons of any player, and his 21.6 goals above replacement, a stat calculated by Evolving Hockey, was fourth-best in the league.

Stone’s performance, when seen just as a Golden Knight, was also excellent.

Stone greatly influenced how the Golden Knights played in the offensive zone when they had him. With Stone in the fold, high-danger opportunities were created ad nauseam.

He also influenced the line he played with to greatness.

Stone and Friends

LineTime On IceCorsi %Shot ShareGoal ShareExpected Goal ShareHigh-Danger Share
Pacioretty, Stastny, Stone154:04:0057.9656.86060.0959.7
Pacioretty, Stastny w/o Stone280:27:0055.7955.34855.1457.76
Postseason Pacioretty, Stasny Stone84:54:0049.3548.6866.6750.3851.43
PS Pacioretty, Stastny, w/o Stone7:584036.36032.9750

While the Max Pacioretty and Paul Stastny combination in the regular season was already talented without Stone, they became even better with him in a Knights sweater. In the playoffs, that line was close to unstoppable. A full season of chemistry building could lead to even better results next season.

To put it simply — Stone made the team better. Both offensively and defensively.

Standout moment

There were a number of moments that stood out for Stone this season, but none more so than his first hat trick in the NHL, coming during Game 3 against the San Jose Sharks. It was the middle game of the three straight the Golden Knights took from the Sharks, and the first playoff game at home in 2019.

Stone also got the primary assist on the game-winning goal in this game. A five-point performance in a critical playoff game is exactly why the Golden Knights acquired Stone, and he lived up to the hype in the postseason. If it wasn’t for some Game 7 poppycock (a game in which Stone had two points), his contributions in that series would be even more important.

Looking ahead

Stone will play his first full season with the Golden Knights in 2019-20. He’ll likely continue playing with Paul Stastny and Max Pacioretty — a line he helped make better and one that could be one of the best in the NHL next year. His impact will be felt on both the penalty kill and the power play for a full season, which will help both special teams units.

How would you grade Mark Stone’s 2018-19 performance?