Stone diamond in rough

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:02 AM ET

OTTAWA - Even if he has a standout NHL career, Mark Stone will have a hard time becoming the best sixth-round pick ever made by the Senators. That distinction will likely always belong to Daniel Alfredsson.

But amateur scout Bob Lowes can take a bow for persuading Bryan Murray to grab Stone with the 178th selection in 2010 draft.

At 6-foot-3, 202 lbs., the 19-year-old winger looks like a sparkling diamond in the rough.

Stone, who won the rookie tournament for the Senators with a highlight-reel overtime goal against the Leafs, had 37 goals and 69 assists for the Brandon Wheat Kings last season. When he is returned to them, he will be considered a candidate to win the WHL scoring title this season.

In the meantime, Stone should represent Canada at the world juniors.

“Stoner played really well in Oshawa, and I thought his work ethic and attention to detail in (Saturday’s practice) was very good as well,” Senators coach Paul MacLean said Saturday. “He’s been an impressive young man to this point.

“It’s a credit to the scouting staff that they were able to find a player like that. That’s what you need to be a good team. Not everyone has the first pick overall.

“We’re happy to have him.”

And fortunate to get him.

Stone only played 39 games his draft year. He missed the first part of the season with a broken thumb and a few weeks near the end after suffering a concussion in a fight with Colten Teubert, a first-round pick of the L.A. Kings.

And when he did play, he says, he didn’t play very well.

But last season was a different story.

“I got to play a big time role with the team, lot of ‘PP’ and ‘PK,’ got to play some big minutes and with some good players,” Stone said.

“So we made it happen in Brandon and we scored a lot of goals.”

Stone’s OT winner last Monday gained him attention on TSN. And a lot of Twitter tweets.

“The fans were pretty excited,” he said. “It’s amazing how many people watched that game. A lot of my buddies were texting, saying they saw it. It was good.”

“In overtime I was just taking a few more extra risks than I normally would. I just made a play and eventually got in the slot, and went low glove. It’s something I wouldn’t do on a normal basis but at the time it was the right thing to do.”

Yes, the big man has a pair of soft hands. He also has his feet on the ground. And moving better, we might add.

Murray says Stone has noticeably improved his skating over the summer. Stone credits Senators skating coach Marc Power.

“I think I’ve spent three or four weeks with him now and he’s helped me out a lot,” said Stone. “He’s given me tools I can use after practices and stuff like that. I’m very excited to put that in my life and try to improve on being a better skater.”

Senators management is deciding which if any of the juniors to use in a pre-season game before returning them. Stone would be thrilled to get such an opportunity.

“It would be huge,” he said. “You play in the rookie games and you’re playing with guys your own age, couple years older and a couple of years younger. So being in that game with NHL players would be something special for me.”

While it looks like he has what it takes to be a power forward in the pros, Stone isn’t getting ahead of himself.

“I really haven’t thought about that,” he said. “I just really want to eventually somehow play in the NHL in my life, and somehow make a career out of playing hockey in the National Hockey League. So any role I could play would be something I would like to do.”

don.brennan@sunmedia.ca


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