Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Even Lowes Didn't Project Stone's Rise to Stardom

Mark Stone's rise to junior stardom wasn't widely speculated 18 months ago when the Ottawa Senators chose him in the sixth round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

Former Wheat Kings' coach Bob Lowes is now an amateur scout with the Senators and was the key person in pushing Ottawa to select Stone.

But even Lowes couldn't have imagined the offensive catalyst Stone has become.

"To say that I thought that he was this good offensively would be a lie. I knew he had some offensive skills but he's taken it to another level," said Lowes during my interview with him on Tuesday night, "He's got range, good hands and great vision and we really like what he's going to bring. I think he's going to play higher in the depth chart than was projected even last year."

The Senators signed Stone to a three-year, entry-level contract this past September after his breakthrough 2010-2011 campaign that saw him finish in a tie for third in the WHL in scoring with 106 points.

The knock on Stone has always been his skating ability, or lack thereof, but Lowes doesn't believes that's no longer a concern.

"I think he's worked really hard on his skating. He's never going to be a high-end skater, but I think he's made his skating a non-issue and I think it's going to continue to get a little bit better," said Lowes, "I think he's gotten stronger. He's always been a big frame, a tall guy, and I think part of why his skating has improved is because of his strength...he's put on 15 or 20 pounds since we drafted him."

If one pick can make or break a scout, Lowes could be in for a lifetime contract with Ottawa.

"It allows me to pick anyone I want from Brandon in the late rounds," joked Lowes on Tuesday, "Credit to Mark. He's the guy that put in all the work to make himself a player."

Lowes also spotted Brandon defenceman Jordan Fransoo last season, with the Senators using a seventh round pick to select the blueliner last June.

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