Stone leaving a lasting impression

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:59 PM ET

Ryan Stone made the most of his first impression.

His second wasn't bad either.

Coming into camp, the six-foot-two, 199-lb. winger was so far down the depth chart, he was merely an afterthought.

But after being arguably the best player on the ice in the preseason opener against the Calgary Flames, and having another strong outing last night in a win over the Florida Panthers, Stone is starting to garner some attention.

QUINN IMPRESSED

"You're very open-minded early on because you know there's habits that are in there, that two days of coaching aren't going to change and you want to see what those habits are and with Stone they were good habits," said Oilers head coach Pat Quinn prior to last night's game.

"He knows how to work hard and in the game he's going to compete, and those are a couple of things that I liked from him. I was looking for a couple of things; individual skill levels, how you think out there because you can draw Xs and Os all night long. It's the guys that figure things out that become good players."

For a team loaded with small, quick forwards, Stone's size could be a commodity.

He started last night's exhibition game against the Florida Panthers on the top line with Mike Comrie and Steve Sullivan, who lit up the Panthers, collecting six points.

Stone set up Taylor Chorney's opening goal of the night in the second period, then picked up another assist on Mike Comrie's goal. He also ran over as many opponents as possible.

"The first game in Calgary I thought I played pretty well, but then again, it's easy to play well with the linemates I'm skating with now," Stone said. "I just have to keep going and make it as hard as I can for them to send me down. Make it a tough decision for them.

"I don't like to read into things too much, but it's definitely a good thing being on the top line again. I think if I didn't play as well as I did in Calgary, I might not be in this game or they might not give me another look. You just try and take advantage of it every time you put on the jersey and step on the ice."

Originally selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round -- 32nd overall -- of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, Stone came to the Oilers in a trade for goaltender Mathieu Garon midway through last season.

He was sent down to Springfield, collecting 28 points in 39 games with the Falcons.

"I think it was a good change for me," Stone said. "I felt my three years there in Pittsburgh, it was a struggle to crack the lineup. It didn't happen last year and I think both sides thought that it was time to move on."

With a total of eight NHL games in four seasons of professional hockey, Stone is in tough to earn a roster spot over more seasoned players. The Oilers have up to 19 forwards vying for 14 roster spots. At the start of training camp, Stone was at the bottom of that list.

"It's been the same way for four years for me," he said. "Every camp that I've had I never have a spot on the roster, I always have to come in and prove myself. I like it that way, though. I have to come into camp in shape, put your best foot forward and make it as hard as I can for them to send me down."

WHL STANDOUT

A former Western Hockey League standout, Stone collected 99 points in his final year of junior with the Brandon Wheat Kings. Last season was his most productive in the AHL, registering 56 points between Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Springfield.

"He had a good night the first night, there is no question about that, and he's been good in the scrimmages," Quinn said.

"We'll watch him closely because he's one of those guys we'll take a hard decision on."

DEREK.VANDIEST@SUNMEDIA.CA


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