In case you missed it, the Vegas Golden Knights made kind of a big trade Monday. With just minutes to spare prior to the NHL’s trade deadline, the Golden Knights acquired forward Mark Stone (and Tobias Lindberg!) from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Erik Brannstrom, Oscar Lindberg and a second-round pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
While losing Brannstrom is a real bummer, it’s hard not to be thrilled about the addition of Stone. The 26-year-old has posted 62 points (28 goals, 34 assists) in 59 games this season and is easily one of the better 200-foot players in hockey. And with Stone already agreeing to a long-term contract with the Knights, it’s probably a good idea to get to know the former Senator a little bit.
What are Stone’s strengths?
Stone’s strengths are nearly everything. His best skill is probably his stickwork. He is famous for leading the league in takeaways, and a few times in every game you’ll watch a play where the other team has the puck, and then suddenly Stone has it and is transitioning the other way. His hands are smooth, his ability to read the play is excellent, and he’s good whether shooting, passing or trying to deflect the puck in from in front of the net. Not a lot of forwards run at a point-per-game pace and play regularly on the penalty kill. He’s so good at both ends of the ice. And what most fans will appreciate is his celebrations. When anybody on his team scores, he shouts and raises his arms like they just won the Cup. His enthusiasm is endearing and contagious.
What are his weaknesses?
His weakness when drafted was his skating. After working with Sens coaches, he’s improved to the point that his skating isn’t a hindrance. That being said, he’s still not going to win any fastest skater contests. So if you’re looking for a weakness, it’s probably in his foot speed, which is average.
What’s he like in the locker room?
By all accounts, he’s wonderful in the locker room. His on-ice enthusiasm is reportedly exactly what he’s like in the room. This year, Brady Tkachuk moved in with him and Stone really took to the role of mentoring the first-year player. There’s a reason he was going to be the Sens’ captain if they could’ve worked out an extension — he is very much a leader, the kind of guy who gives everything on the ice and looks out for everyone off the ice.
How did Senators fans react when it was announced that he’d been traded?
We were kind of resigned to the fact it was going to happen, basically since he signed a one-year deal ahead of arbitration over the summer. But it really is devastating. While Erik Karlsson was the best player in franchise history, Stone is arguably the most universally loved player in Sens history. He was the kind of exciting, expressive player that gets fans excited. Losing him is going to really hurt fan engagement, and likely season ticket renewal. Nearly everyone who still cared about the team after losing Karlsson is losing interest now that Stone’s gone.