Rolling Stone Emerging as a Star for Ottawa
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Mark Stone is just 25 years old.
With three straight 20 goals seasons already under his belt, Stone has been a key piece of Ottawa’s offence over the past three seasons. When he’s at the top of his game, his unique combination of off-the-charts hockey IQ and elite hand-eye coordination makes him one of the game’s most dangerous players.
What he lacks in foot speed he makes up for with both offensive and defensive awareness and an uncanny ability to steal pucks away from the opposition in just any situation. It’s that part of his game that has Stone slowly finding his way into the discussion for the Frank J. Selke Trophy, awarded annually to the league’s top defensive forward.
A 6th round pick in the 2010 Entry Draft, the Winnipeg, Manitoba native has already been with the organization for eight years.
And in that time he’s gone from relatively unknown late round pick to one of the most underrated players in the National Hockey League.
Mark Stone is in his final year of his current contract, earning a just $4.5 million, a bargain by NHL standards. But based on his play this season, he’ll be in line for a significant raise on his next deal.
And that’s why all eyes will be on Senators General Manager Pierre Dorion this summer as they try to negotiate a new contract with Stone.
An RFA as of July 1st, there’s no doubt that Stone is going to cash-in this summer. Both the organization and Stone have shown an interest in getting something done but talks have been preliminary to this point. It seems as though both parties want to let this season play out and see where things stand at the end of the year. His offensive numbers already place him among the game’s most productive right wingers and at his age, it can certainly be argued that his best days are still ahead of him.
Complicating the situation for the Senators is the fact that Stone isn’t the only key player in need of a new contract. As of July 1, 2018, both Matt Duchene and Erik Karlsson will also be eligible for contract extensions. Busy times ahead for Pierre Dorion as he tries to lock up the core of his team.
Looking at some of the contracts signed around the league, it’s clear that Stone is in line for a significant raise. Players in a similar situation, like Cam Atkinson in Columbus or David Pastrnak in Boston, have landed long-term extensions and for big money. Think six plus years and more than $6 million per season.
It would be a huge commitment for the organization but based on everything we’ve seen from Stone to this point in his career, it’s an investment worth making.
In his fourth full season with the Senators, Mark Stone has emerged as a legitimate star in the NHL. And this summer, he’s going to get paid like one.
Photo: Derek Lung