Mark Stone could very well be one of the Ottawa Senators few bright spots this season, thus making him a great sleeper pick for fantasy hockey players in 2018. With Erik Karlsson’s almost inevitable departure and Mike Hoffman‘s exit, Stone will be the player Ottawa looks at to carry their team. After coming off a career-high 62-point season in 2017-18, Stone is in an even better spot to crush that record this upcoming season.
Mark Stone and the Opportunity in Ottawa
Many people believe the lack of support staff around Stone will hinder his performance. However, this could work right into fantasy owners favour. After trading Mike Hoffman, who was Ottawa’s second-leading goal scorer a year ago, Stone will be the guy the Senators look to replace those goals.
It is very well known that Hoffman was not much of a passer. Hoffman would choose to shoot over passing almost every time last season. With Hoffman out, this will open up a huge opportunity for more goal-scoring chances for Stone. Instead of Hoffman being the go-to guy on the power play, Stone will get a lot more of those looks.
The Senators will want Stone to be more of a focal point in this year’s offence and will put him in favourable situations so he can produce in the place of Hoffman. The departure of Hoffman could be a blessing in disguise for fantasy owners of Mark Stone.
The Matt Duchene Effect
Another factor that will help increase Stones goal-scoring production this year is a full season with Matt Duchene. If Stone and Duchene can find some chemistry this could be a dangerous tandem on the top line for the Senators. Duchene has the ability to thread the needle and find open players. He also posses a strong goal-scoring ability so he can find the back of the net. This will open up both goal-scoring opportunities for Stone as well as allow him to rack up more assists with Duchene’s knack for scoring. With these two working together they could make some magic and reek havoc in the offensive zone.
Next, with a weary forward core, the top line for the Senators featuring these two could see the bulk of the ice-time. Not only 5-on-5 but on the power play as well. The Senators will give Stone every chance he needs to be the leading scorer for the Senators.
Something to Prove
This past summer Mark Stone signed a one year $7.35 million contract with the Senators. This should be very appealing to fantasy hockey managers because of the term. Mark Stone has one year to show the rest of the NHL teams that he deserves a long-term contract. This gives Stone even more incentive and motivation to have a great season. This one-year contract could also influence him to be a little more selfish. With the Senators being predicted to finish near the bottom of the standings, Stone could be more focused on his production more so than team results. This benefits fantasy hockey managers greatly as fantasy owners want exactly that, individual results over team results. Stone will be doing everything in his power to have a career season to score him that long-term deal he desires.
Stone’s Secret Weapon
Finally, Stone could also be a huge asset in leagues that have takeaways as a scoring category. Year in and year out stone is atop the NHL’s leaders in takeaways. Last year he averaged one takeaway per game and two years ago he led the league with 1.35 takeaways per game. This just adds another dimension to Stones already intriguing fantasy value.
All in all, Stone is a middle to late round steal. Everything in Ottawa is falling into place for Stone to have a career season. There will be opportunity galore for Stone to show why he deserves a big contract. If you can look past the lowly team he is playing for and look at the chance he has in Ottawa to be a star, you will not be disappointed with him as a depth winger on your team.
Main Photo: TORONTO, ON – FEBRUARY 10: Mark Stone #61 of the Ottawa Senators skates with the puck against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on February 10, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Senators 6-3. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)