January 4, 2012
Senators scout proud of picking Stone
By SCOTT FISHER, QMI Agency
Bob Lowes has reason to smile.
It appears he found a diamond while sifting through a pile of coal.
The Ottawa Senators scout saw something in Brandon Wheat Kings power forward Mark Stone that others missed.
Now, Team Canada's leading scorer is making Lowes look like a genius for urging the Sens to grab Stone in the sixth round (178th overall) of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
"The draft's not a perfect science," Lowes said. "Sometimes guys work out and sometimes sixth-round picks end up better than first-round picks.
"A lot of the credit has to go to Mark, though, for how hard he's worked to become a player."
While all of the pre-draft hype surrounded the Taylor vs. Tyler saga, the Sens scouting staff, which didn't have a pick until the third round, turned their attention elsewhere.
As the draft crawled along, Lowes kept pushing for the 6-foot-3, 200-lb. Wheat Kings winger.
"I remember when we were going into the later rounds, we were looking for CHL player with some size," Lowes said.
"There's was another kid we liked from the OHL, and there was Mark. I went to bat for Mark and nobody seemed to object."
Stone said once he got the call from the Senators, he's been determined to prove Lowes didn't make a mistake.
"I was getting pretty nervous that I wasn't going to get drafted," Stone said. "(Lowes) had the confidence to get me into the Ottawa organization, so I owe a lot to him.
"And I owe a lot to the development guys. They helped me along the way with a lot of things, especially with my skating."
Stone's skating was the biggest reason the rest of the NHL teams refused to take a flyer on him.
But Lowes didn't think Stone had reached his full potential yet.
"We knew that the skating was something that can get better if you work at it," Lowes said. "And having done some background on his character, I felt it was a situation that he would do whatever it took to better himself, and he's done that.
"He still has to continue to get better, but we're pretty confident he'll keep working on it."
Both the player and the scout were quick to share the credit for Stone's accelerated progress over the past 18 months with Sens strength and conditioning coach Chris Schwarz and director of player development Randy Lee.
"He's a tall guy, so sometimes the core strength isn't there," Lowes said. "He's not a natural skater, so when he got tired, his stride broke down.
"But it doesn't break down as much now because of his conditioning."
Lowes, who rang up 459 career wins during his dozen years behind the bench with the Wheat Kings and Regina Pats, said Stone's production at the world juniors hasn't been a shock to him.
"He had such a good year last year," Lowes said. "There were games where he was just dominant. So, I'm not surprised after seeing how well he did this summer at the development camp.
"And seeing how good he's been with his club team, I had a feeling he would be good in the tournament. You never know how good."
Lowes, who was a 10th round pick of the New York Rangers (1982), said Stone's skillset should translate well at the pro level.
"I think he'll be a good pro," Lowes said of Stone, who led the WHL scoring race when he left for to join Team Canada a month ago. "He's playing with guys like (Jonathan) Huberdeau and (Ryan) Strome, and he compliments those guys, so you know he can play with good players.
"He plays good defensively, he comes back hard.
"Where he fits in the mix, that'll figure itself out, whether he's a third-, second- or first-line player.
"But I think he's given himself a chance to be an offensive player."
On Twitter: @SUNScottFisher