Stephens, Mitchell

Stephens, Cirelli Get First Taste of Pro Hockey with Crunch


By Jeremy Houghtaling

There were two new faces on the ice for Syracuse Crunch practice Tuesday.

Mitchell Stephens and Anthony Cirelli, two Tampa Bay Lightning picks from the 2015 draft, took the ice for the first time in Syracuse after signing amateur tryouts with the Crunch this week. The split practice involved lots of shooting and possession drills for the two centers, who stuck together throughout most of the workouts.

Although Stephens and Cirelli will likely return to their respective junior teams next season, the Lightning organization wanted both players to get a sample of the game at the pro level.

“They’re two smart hockey players,” Crunch head coach Rob Zettler said. “They both have another year of junior left, but we wanted to get them in here and give them a taste of pro hockey. We’ll see -- I’m not sure -- whether they’ll play or not. We’ll see what happens over the course of the next five games.”

Lightning Sign F Mitchell Stephens to Entry Level Deal

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed forward Mitchell Stephens to a three-year, entry-level contract, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.

Stephens, 19, skated in 39 games with the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League this past season, collecting 20 goals and 38 points to go along with 14 penalty minutes. Stephens missed 29 games during the regular season but still ranked fifth on the Spirit for points and tied for fourth for goals. The Peterborough, Ontario, native also appeared in four games for Saginaw during the 2016 OHL Playoffs, posting two goals and three points.

The 6-foot, 193-pound forward has skated in 158 career OHL games, all with Saginaw over three seasons, recording 51 goals and 107 points. Stephens also suited up for Team Canada at the 2016 IIHF World Jr. Championships this past season, notching a goal and two points in five tournament games.

Stephens was selected by the Lightning in the second round, 33rd overall, at the 2015 NHL Draft.

BP Commentary:

Stephens is a young Callahan in effort and character, but can play both center and wing. He played center all year on Saginaw's top line and put up good numbers when healthy. He broke his foot early in the year and missed several weeks, but returned just in time to make Team Canada and perform well at the WJC's.

Stephens' hands are underrated and he's very poised with the puck. He's an excellent complimentary forward with some skill who will be a favorite of coaches throughout his career. He could have the same impact on the Lightning eventually as Ondrej Palat (or Callahan had with the Rangers earlier in his career).

The second rounder won't turn 20 until February, so while he can join Syracuse now, he has to go back to juniors next fall if he doesn't make the Lightning - which isn't expected. He will probably captain the Spirit next season and may wear a letter for Canada next Christmas.

U20 WJC Game Day: 1-2-16

Quarterfinal Round
Finland 6 vs. Canada 5
Brayden Point, Canada, 0-2-2, E, 0 PIM, 4 SOG
Tournament totals: 5 GP, 1-4-5, E 0 PIM

Mitchell Stephens, Canada, 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament totals: 5 GP, 1-1-2, -1, 2 PIM

Brayden Point had a pair of Third Period power play helpers to allow Canada to tie home standing Finland at 5-5, but 17 year old Patrik Laine scored on a two many advantage with less than 6 minutes to go to lift Finland to the 6-5 win. Laine had 2 goals and 3 points in the match while fellow 17 year old Jesse Puljujarvi had 3 assists. Both forwards are expected to go high in this June's NHL Entry Draft.

USA 7 vs. Czech Republic 0
Dominik Masin, Czech Republic, 0-0-0, -2, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 5 GP, 1-1-2, -2, 0 PIM

Dominik Masin was -2 as USA steamrolled Czech Republic 7-0. Masin was named one the the Czech's three best players of the tournament following the match. Team USA was paced by a hat trick by Auston Matthews, who is the presumptive top pick in this June's NHL Entry Draft.

That concludes this year's U20 World Junior Championships for Tampa Bay's prospects.

U20 WJC Game Day: 12-31-15

Group A
Canada 2 vs. Sweden 5
Mitchell Stephens, Canada, 1-0-1, E, 2 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 4 GP, 1-0-1, -1, 2 PIM

Brayden Point, Canada, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament totals: 4 GP, 1-2-3, E, 0 PIM

Mitchell Stephens' rebound goals was one of the few highlights in Canada's 5-2 loss to Sweden. Stephens also took a matching roughing minor in the contest. Kings first rounder Adrian Kempe was one of 4 Swedish players with 2 point games, chipping in 1 goal and 1 assist.

Group B
Finland 5 vs. Czech Republic 4
Dominik Masin, Czech Republic, 0-1-1, -1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament totals: 4 GP, 1-1-2, E, 0 PIM

Dominik Masin assisted on a key goal late in the Second Period that, at the time, was the equalizer in Czech Republic's eventual 5-4 loss to Finland. Finland scored a pair of power play goals off the sticks of 17 year olds Jesse Puljujarvi of Karpat and Patrik Laine of Tappara to pull out the win.

The day's matches closed out the round-robin portion of the tournament, setting the stage for the medal round. In the Quarterfinals, Canada will face homestanding Finland while the Czech Republic draws Team USA. Both contests are slated for Saturday.

WJC Game Day: 12-29-15

Switzerland 2 vs. Canada 3 (SO)
Brayden Point, Canada, 1-0-1, E, 0 PIM, 5 SOG
Tournament totals: 3 GP, 1-2-3, +1, 0 PIM

Mitchell Stephens, Canada, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Tournament totals: 3 GP, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM

Brayden Point had the SO winner (which counts as a goal in IIHF tournament statistics) for Canada in their 3-2 victory over Switzerland. Canada fell behind 2-0 early in the First Period on goals by 18 year old Damien Riat and 19 year old Dario Meyer, the latter of whom plays his junior hockey in the WHL for the Edmonton Oil Kings. Undrafted 19 year old defenseman Joe Hicketts had the tying goal in the Second Period that eventually forced Overtime. Hicketts is just 5'8" tall and had 64 points in 62 games last season for Victoria in the WHL. He's a lefty shot, if you were wondering.

U20 WJC Game Day: 12-28-15

Group A
Canada 6 vs. Denmark 1
Brayden Point, Canada, 0-2-2, +2, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament totals: 2 GP, 0-2-2, +1, 0 PIM

Mitchell Stephens, Canada, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Tournament totals: 2 GP, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM

Angry Canada, fresh off their opening match loss to USA, outshot Denmark 56-11 in a 6-1 laugher. Coyotes first rounder Dylan Strome, Maple Leafs first rounder Mitch Marner, and the Lightning's own Brayden Point each had 2 points a piece.

Group B
Slovakia 0 vs. Czech Republic 2
Dominik Masin, Czech Republic, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 4 SOG
Tournament totals: 2 GP, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM

Capitals second rounder Vitek Vanecek, the pride of the ECHL's South Carolina Stingrays, stopped all 18 shots he faced as Czech Republic blanked Slovakia 2-0. Bruins forward David Pastrnak had the winner for the Czechs on the power play.

U20 WJC Game Day: 12-26-15

Group A
USA 4 vs. Canada 2
Brayden Point, Canada, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 4 SOG
Tournament totals: 1 GP, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM

Mitchell Stephens, Canada, 0-0-0, -1 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 1 GP, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM

Brayden Point had a team high 4 shots for Canada in their 4-2 tournament-opening loss to arch-rival Team USA. Team USA weathered a First Period spearing major and game misconduct by undrafted 18 year old Alex Debrincat of Erie before pulling away with 2 goals in the final 4 minutes of the game scored by Minnesota third rounder Louis Belpedio and presumptive 2016 number one overall pick Auston Matthews. Matthews had 1 goal and 1 assist, for his part, in the tournament opener.

Group B
Czech Republic 1 vs. Russia 2 (SO)
Dominik Masin, Czech Republic, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament totals: 1 GP, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM

Czech Republic weathered a First Period boarding major and game misconduct by Bruins first rounder Jakub Zboril before falling to Russia in the Shootout 2-1. Winnipeg fourth rounder Michael Spacek put the Czechs up 1-0 on a penalty shot in the Second Period before undrafted 19 year old Artur Lauta managed the Third Period equalizer and undrafted 19 year old Cape Breton star Maxim Lazarev sealed the win with a Shootout goal.

NHL Preseason Game Night: 9-22-15 Predators at Lightning

Strong 55 minutes of hockey marred by late game collapse.

NSH-3
TB-2 (OT)

Ray Emery stopped all 10 shots he faced before giving way to Adam Wilcox midway through regulation. Wilcox played well for 25 minutes before eventually allowing 3 goals for the OT loss. He stopped 14 of 17 overall on the night. Emery's performance lays down a strong initial claim to the role of Bishop's backup heading into the regular season with Vasilevskiy shelved the first couple of months of the campaign.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
2:58 TB Condra (1), (Angelidis, DeAngelo)

Third Period
1:01 TB Drouin (1), (Killorn, Hedman)
15:18 NSH Bass (1), (Bourque, Jones)
17:28 NSH Arvidsson (1), (Fiala)

Overtime
3:50 NSH Ekholm (1), (Forsberg, Ellis)(PP)

Brayden Point was the game's second star.

Unfortunately, the last 9 minutes or so of hockey kind of overshadowed 55 minutes of hockey where the Lightning accomplished most of what they set out to do tonight. They got good performances from the backup goaltenders. They got Drouin on track early in preseason. They got some good performances from the young players, especially the young defensemen. I think the staff will be happy with the night, on balance, but you want to finish it off and get the result, of course.

Anthony DeAngelo had a helper and was +1 with 2 shots and 1 hit in 21:03. They let their young thoroughbreds out for a good long run tonight.

Mike Angelidis had a helper and was +1 with 1 hit and 3 blocked shots in 11:37. He was also 67% on draws. Productive in his ice time, but that IT was limited because the Lightning know what they have there and the role he's going to be put into. Not a lot of mystery with Angelidis.

Slater Koekkoek was -1 with 1 hit and 5 blocked shots in 18:17.

Point was -1 with 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 16:03. He was also a very nice 71% on draws. The guy has just gotten universal praise by everyone who has seen him in the last half a year or so.

Joel Vermin had 1 blocked shot in 13:55.

Henri Ikonen had 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 11:35.

Mitchell Stephens was -1 with 2 shots and 2 hits in 14:11. It says a lot that they gave him a touch more IT than some of the more established prospects who were in Syracuse last season. They obviously have high hopes for Stephens.

Dylan Blujus had 2 shots, 2 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 19:30. Also hit a crossbar. Nice, well-rounded stat line. Good to see, with a nice chunk of minutes.

Adam Erne was -1 with 3 shots and 2 hits in 14:40. Activity is good. Syracuse fans should be excited to get DeAngelo and Erne into the program this season.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Mitchell Stephens

Basics

Type: 
Prospect
Position: 
Center
Shoots/Catches: 
Right
Height: 
5.11
Weight: 
187
Born: 
02/05/1997
Age: 
21
Hometown: 
Peterborough, ONT
Acquired: 
Selected by Tampa Bay Lightning in Round 2 (#33) of the 2015 NHL Draft
Last Team: 
Syracuse (AHL)
Projects As: 
Top 9 character player who can chip in offensively

Draft Info

Draft Status: 
Drafted
Draft Year: 
2015
Drafted By: 
Tampa Bay Lightning
Round: 
2
Pick No.: 
33
Draft Team: 
Saginaw (OHL)

Contract

Contract Status: 
Signed
Waiver Status: 
Waiver Exempt
Signing Date: 
04/04/2016
Contract Type: 
Entry-level
Contract Length: 
3 years
Cap Number: 
$839 166
Contract Start Year: 
2017
Contract End Year: 
2020
Contract End Status: 
RFA
Salary: 
$667 500
Salary: 
$925 000
Salary: 
$925 000

Bio

Awards: 

2014-15

  • CHL Top Prospects Game
  • Hlinka Memorial Gold Medal
  • U18 WJC Bronze Medal
  • U18 WJC Top 3 Player on Team

Scouting Report

Scouting Comments: 

There's consensus about the positives in Mitchell Stephens' game. He's consider a high-character, high-energy player with good wheels. He competes really hard and is a relentless forechecker. Is he a lower-line defensive centerman, though, or does he have more offensive skill and upside than he has shown to date?

"Loads of work ethic and leadership, not much skill." - Red Line Report

"Plays the game the way it's meant to be played." - Red Line Report

“Positive impact, had a good U-18 showcase. Good package with drive, persistency, grit and straight-forward mentality. Not the most creative player but can balance offensive line attributes well with good fore check and ability to create space. Good shot and strong stride”. - ISS

Strengths: 

High character player with a great compete level and leadership intangibles. Good skater who is relentless on the forecheck. Plays an evolved defensive game for his age.

Weaknesses: 

Lack of creativity and hockey sense in the offensive zone. Has some tools (puck handling, shot) but no tool box yet in the offensive third. Undersized centerman needs to bulk up for the pro game. Could improve his first-step explosiveness, as well.

Projection: 

Third liner who can chip in offensively from time to time.

Statistics

Player statistics powered by www.eliteprospects.com

 Season Team League GP G A TP PIM      Playoffs GP G A TP PIM 
 2011-2012 Toronto Marlboros Mn Mdgt AAAOHL Cup2 0 11 0|        
  Toronto Marlboros Bantam AAAGTBHL- - -- -|        
 2012-2013 Toronto Marlboros Mn Mdgt AAAGTMMHL58 44 4084 12|        
  Toronto Marlboros Mn Mdgt AAAOHL Cup7 4 37 8|        
  Team GTHL Red OGC-165 0 22 0|        
 2013-2014 Saginaw SpiritOHL57 9 1221 8|Playoffs5 0 22
  Canada Ontario U17WHC-175 0 22 6|        
 2014-2015 Team Red U18-Dev3 2 13 0|        
  Saginaw SpiritOHL62 22 2648 44|Playoffs4 0 00
  Canada U18Hlinka Memorial5 4 26 2|        
  Canada U18WJC-187 5 510 10|        
 2015-2016 Saginaw SpiritOHL39 20 1838 14|Playoffs4 2 13
  Syracuse CrunchAHL5 1 01 0|        
  Canada U20WJC-205 1 12 2|        
 2016-2017 Saginaw SpiritOHL22 11 1728 14|        
  London KnightsOHL29 11 1425 12|Playoffs14 7 310
  Syracuse CrunchAHL0 0 00 0|Playoffs3 0 00
  OHL All-StarsJr Super Series2 0 11 0|        
  Canada U20WJC-205 2 35 0|        
 2017-2018 Syracuse CrunchAHL70 19 2241 24|Playoffs7 1 56
 2018-2019 Syracuse CrunchAHL- - -- -|        

Player statistics © www.eliteprospects.com
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