Michael Stone was signed by the Phoenix Coyotes today to an Entry Level deal with the usual "Terms not disclosed by the team" disclaimer. Stone is likely in his last year in the WHL with the Calgary Hitmen as he'll be 20 for the upcoming season. Teams are allowed to carry a certain amount of "overage" players, but Stone has already shown that he's capable of quite a bit and would probably do better with a higher level of competition that the AHL should be able to provide should the coaching and development situation down in San Antonio get straightened out.
I asked around for some scouting reports on Stone, who is tied for the WHL lead in scoring for defensemen (13-21-34) and resident SBNHockey WHL fan Resolute had the following to say about Stone:
- Stone's primary strength is his offence. He has shown a very good progression offensively throughout his WHL career and is one of the most dangerous players from the blueline in the league.
- He is the Hitmen's top defenceman this year, and a co-captain, which argues for the respect he's earned from the coaches and his teammates.
- He has been fortunate to play his junior career with one of the strongest teams in the WHL over the last four years, and I think has benefited from playing with guys like Karl Alzner and Alex Plante (who was his parter for much of last year). I do think he was also protected by these guys though, and without them, his defence has been a little poorer this season compared to the last couple (as his change in +/- would tell you).
- He'll never been an all-star for his defence, but he is capable. He has been the kind of guy who doesn't really dominate, but he also doesn't hurt you.
- -Absolute killer on the powerplay
- His development benefited from the Hitmen's organizational philosophy of having players play. As a 16/17 year old, he was not protected as much as other junior teams tend to treat their younger players. It has paid off for the organization and the players, as many have gone pro. He's got 49 games of playoff experience in just three years, with Calgary expected to go deep again this year. Not many come close to that in a full career.
While Stone isn't "new" to the organization. It's good to see he's developed well in the WHL system. The league isn't a soft junior league. You have to be able to hit and take a hit in order to play in the league and do it fairly well to be a defenseman on top of that. Looks like we'll see soon either here or in San Antonio.