After a 2016-2017 that saw the Ottawa Senators go to the Eastern Conference Finals, the 2017-2018 season has been a disaster. After acquiring Matt Duchene, a move Ottawa believed would set them up to win, the team has spun downwards. From the poor play to their owner threatening to move, it has been a rough year. One thing that has brought Senators fans joy, however, is the play of Mark Stone. His play this season has secured any doubt that Stone deserves a raise.
The six-foot winger was drafted in the sixth round, 178th overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. It was clear from the year after he was drafted that this was going to be a steal for the Senators. He posted 28 points in 39 games played with the Brandon Wheat Kings, an average of 0.72 points per game, in his draft year. The following season he posted 106 points in 71 games, 1.49 points per game. Sens fans have known that Mark Stone is great for a few years now. However, this season has been a true breakout year for the 25-year-old.
Mark Stone Deserves A Raise
His 2-Way Game
Mark Stone is well known for his great two-way game. This season, Stone is 15th in forwards for takeaways, despite playing between seven and twelve fewer games than 13 of the 14 skaters ahead of him. Last season he ranked first for forwards in takeaways with 87 in 71 games played. That is 22 more than the second place forward, Auston Matthews, who also played eleven more games. Stone is a takeaway machine and it is what makes him so effective in all areas of the ice.
— Alex M (@nhlsensandstuff) November 30, 2017
It is not just takeaways that Stone is good at, however. He also controls and drives play very well. Mark Stone has a 51.08 Corsi For percentage, which ranks first among Senator forwards and second on the team. He also has a 50.86 xGF% which ranks second among Senators forwards. These numbers don’t seem like all-star numbers, though they come on a team having a bad season. The Ottawa Senators are not usually known to be good in shot percentages, and this season has been dreadful for the whole team. There are only three players over 50% in Corsi For. These three players are Erik Karlsson, Stone, and Derick Brassard.
Suddenly, Stone’s numbers start to look a lot better when you consider the Senators play this season. Mark Stone has been easily the Sens best player this season. He leads or is among the leaders in almost every category for the Sens. His two-way game is just one example of that.
Stone In The Offensive Zone
Another reason Mark Stone deserves a raise is his offensive game. It’s been shown that Stone has been one of the best two-way players for the Sens. His offensive zone stats have been more impressive than the rest of his season.
Stone has had a solid career getting points before this season, but he has truly excelled this year. Prior to this year, Stone’s career high was 64 points. He had also hit 61 and 54 in the previous two years. This season, Mark Stone is already at 59 points. With just under 20 games left he is set to break his previous record that he set in 2015. What is even more impressive about this is that he did it in way fewer games too. When he set his career high he had played 81 games. This season he has played just 54. In an 82 game season, Stone would be on pace for 90 points.
The Senators rank 25th in goals for this season with just 171, making things even more impressive. Stone has had a point on 35% of Ottawa’s goals this season.
At all strengths, players can feed off of power play points to inflate their totals and make them look higher. Stone has 37 points at 5v5, 28 of them being primary points, which are goals and first assists. This ranks first on the Sens in both categories. Stone has more primary points at 5v5 than Matt Duchene, the second Senators player in 5v5 points, has in total (26).
When we adjust for ice time and use Points Per 60, it should be no surprise Stone stays at the top of this list. At 2.75 P/60, that is good enough for 10th in the entire league and first on the Sens. When adjusted for Primary Points per 60, he ranks first on the Sens in a landslide at 2.08. 2.08 P1/60 also ranks him 14th in the entire league, tied with possible Hart Candidate Taylor Hall. Stone has been impressive at 5v5 this season and without an injury, he may have hit the 90 point mark.
So, How Big Of A Raise Should He Get?
Mark Stone is currently in the last year of his deal, which sees him make 3.5M. He was due for a raise before this season, but with his play this season, how big of a raise is Stone in for? Matt Cane, who has one of the best contract predictive models, has Stone at roughly eight years and nine million dollars. This is an amount that is likely to go down, however.
The first and major reason is that this number is just preliminary and was made in mid-January. Cane had said himself that number will likely drop over the back half of the season as Mark Stone got out to a red-hot start. The other reason is that Stone is an RFA, not a UFA. This means he has a lot less bargaining power when it comes to contracts. Now the Sens will most likely be smart and lock Stone up long term anyway, however, being an RFA may drive the price down a million or so.
Sens fans should probably expect an eight-year deal in the market of seven to nine million for Mark Stone, depending on who feels they need the other more. Considering Andrew Berkshire had Stone as the fifth best right winger heading into this season and he may have arguably moved up, this isn’t an unreasonable ask. Overall, expect a big contract to be headed his way this summer, which is a good thing as Mark Stone deserves a raise.
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