A fifth-round selection at the 2007 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft and a sixth-round selection in the 2010 NHL Draft, former Brandon Wheat Kings captain Mark Stone spent the formative years of his hockey career flying under the radar.
Elevating his play over the course of 483 NHL regular season and playoff games, the 27-year-old Vegas Golden Knights forward is now deservedly recognized as one of the game’s top talents, breathing life into the offence of the NHL’s 31st franchise.
All before that though, he dazzled and wowed through four seasons in his home province. From the moment he hit the ice in the gold, black, and white in 2008-09 WHL Regular Season, the Wheat Kings knew they had a special player to build around for future seasons to come.
Stone collected 39 points (17G-22A) in 56 games as a rookie, including seven power-play goals and one game-winning goal. He made an immediate impact with an assist in his WHL debut and scored his first WHL goal in his first home game on September 26, 2008.
The Winnipeg, Man. product saved some of his best performances of the regular season for the home fans, tallying his first-ever four-point game on February 7, 2009. He also recorded three of his four multi-goal games that season on home soil.
Injuries shortened his 2009-10 season to 39 games, but didn’t deter the young Stone. After playing three games in September, Stone missed time until the start of December. As part of his determination, Stone made up for lost time upon his return with 11 points (5G-6A) in his first eight games back. That run culminated with his first WHL hat trick on December 19, 2009.
A healthy Stone continued to earn more opportunities in his second season, once again appearing in all of his team’s games during the WHL Playoffs. Stone also saw action in all five games during the 2010 Memorial Cup in Brandon. While he was held off the scoresheet at the tournament, the experience helped to set the tone for the future.
While the injury deterred interest by some teams towards him at the 2010 NHL Draft, the Ottawa Senators took notice of his potential and chose him in the sixth round, 178th overall. On re-drafts with the benefit of hindsight in the present day, Stone is an easy top choice among first-round selections.
A healthy and reinvigorated Stone came to the Wheat Kings for the 2010-11 WHL season on a mission. He then erupted for 106 points (37G-69A) in 71 games that season, factoring in 17 power-play goals, two short-handed goals, and seven game-winning goals.
With 30 multi-point games, Stone again saved his best performance of the season for those on home ice. On February 15, 2011, Stone tallied a pair of goals and six points in a 7-4 win over the Saskatoon Blades. Scoring Brandon’s second and third goals of the game, Stone also recorded primary assists on the first, fourth, fifth, and sixth goals for his side. Including his magical performance in February, Stone had six multi-goal performances with four occurring at home.
From January 26 to March 9, 2011, Stone maintained an 18-game point streak to keep the Wheat Kings rolling, tallying 40 points (12G-28A) over that span. His breakout performance for the season placed him in a tie for third in league scoring and earned him recognition as a member of the Eastern Conference’s First All-Star Team.
Entering what was to be his final season in the WHL, Stone had more magic up his sleeve to delight fans.
Named the captain of the Wheat Kings, Stone took that responsibility of leadership to heart. He opened the season on an 18-game point streak, recording 37 points (14G-23A) in that span. After being held scoreless on November 8, 2011, Stone recorded points in the next eight games, including two four-point performances and a trio of three-point efforts.
Tallying 39 multi-point games throughout his final season, Stone recorded a pair of five-point efforts and six four-point performances. Five of those eight games came in the friendly confines of Brandon’s city limits, further cementing his status as the team’s top performer.
Finishing with 123 points (41G-82A) in 66 games, he found the scoresheet in 58 of those contests and ranked second in WHL scoring. A slam-dunk candidate for the Eastern Conference First All-Star Team, Stone also spent just 22 minutes in the penalty box. That combination earned Stone the Brad Hornung Trophy as the WHL’s Most Sportsmanlike Player of the Year and CHL Sportsman of the Year.
Looking back at Stone’s cumulative career in the WHL, 296 points (106G-190A) in 232 WHL regular season games stands up as an incredible feat in the modern era of the WHL and has earned him a place among the Wheat Kings’ all-time best players.
He was also proficient in the WHL Playoffs, tallying 24 points (5G-19A) in 41 games throughout four seasons.
Stone’s jump to the NHL came immediate and briefly as well, joining the Ottawa Senators for the first round of the 2012 NHL Playoffs and assisting on the game-winning goal by Jason Spezza in his debut.
After establishing himself as a key part of the offence in Ottawa, McCrimmon reunited the pair with a February 25, 2019 trade that brought him to the state of Nevada. Stone brought his offensive mentality as well, thriving with 63 points (21G-42A) in 65 games through his first full season with his new club.
A leading member of the Golden Knights and rising fast in the hockey world, Stone is flying under the radar no longer.