Position: Left Winger/Center
Born: 04/22/94, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
NHL Central Scouting Rank: #33 North American Skater
Player Pages: NHL - EP - HF - WHL
The 77th overall pick, Chandler Stephenson is an offensively-minded center with good speed. He was voted his junior team's most gentlemanly player, as he is not prone to taking penalties. He displays good creativity in the offensive zone, he has good hands and good hockey sense and is willing to play with a physical edge. He is not very large, but he is very strong and has a powerful slap shot. He is working to improve his all-around game, but he is able to control play in the offensive zone well enough for his defense not to be an issue most of the time.
Though he missed 14 games with a sprained knee, Stephenson still managed 22 goals and 42 points in 55 games as the fourth-best scorer on the Regina Pats of the WHL. He finished the season with a -1 rating and just 24 PIM, but perhaps most impressive was the fact he had just 2 powerplay goals, meaning his production should take off with more special teams time next season. In the WHL playoffs, Stephenson finished tied for third in team scoring with a goal and 4 points, but the more impressive numbers might have been his team-leading +4 and 0 PIM.
If Stephenson continues to play center, he projects to be a playmaking center, probably a second- or third-liner because of his size. He will take several seasons to develop into that type of role, but he has a good brain for hockey and a good starting skill set. His NHL upside will be limited if he does not improve his defense, though. He should be well motivated and coached with three cousins who play professional hockey.
Plans for next season:
Most likely, Chandler Stephenson will follow the path of another speedy, 5'10 center the Caps drafted, Mathieu Perreault. After his draft year, Perreault played two more years of junior and a full season in the AHL before making his NHL debut in hist fourth year after the 2006 Draft. Then Perreault was a part-time center for the Capitals for two seasons before making the team for good in year 6. Stephenson will need to continue developing in the WHL for at least one more season, probably two, where he will be expected to take on a larger role for Regina. He should get the chance to develop in the AHL in 2014-15 before getting the chance to make the NHL roster in 2015-16.