At the start of the 2014-15 season, Saginaw Spirit forward Mitchell Stephens was thought to be a prospect that could possibly be drafted in the 4th or 3rd round. Last year Stephens had a measly 9 goals and 12 assists in 57 games. His play showed signs of potential, but nothing like he is showcasing today. Now Mitchell Stephens is thought to be a prospect that could possibly go in the 1st round of the draft.
This uncertainty of what Stephens could become started back when he was entering the OHL Draft. He was thought to be a top pick but fell considerably from his inconsistent dominating play. A situation that is similar to Lawson Crouse at this year’s NHL Draft. Crouse is thought to be a top ten selection, but many knock him for his lack of scoring in the OHL. Luckily his top notch play in the GTHL playoffs with the Toronto Marlboros landed him with the Saginaw Spirit.
Stephens has a lot of speed for his size and weight. At 6’0″ and 183 lbs you normally wouldn’t think he could keep his feet moving, but he holds his own in the fast paced OHL style of game.
A fast paced style of game seems to be the favorable kind for Stephens. The Scouting Report went so far as to say he “struggled at times with the slower pace of play in Minor Midget.” His quick feet could definitely help him in the NHL and also mentioned in the report is his strength which would aid Stephens in a slower paced game.
Stephens helped his Saginaw Spirit into the OHL playoffs this year after a solid regular season campaign. His style of play, being a strong two-way forward who could potentially put up points, isn’t best suited for the OHL on paper. In order to get the idea of what Stephens brings to the table you need to watch him battle in the corners and set up chances.
Stephens is one of the better players on the team when it comes to creating goals. His 16.5 is almost 7% out of the whole Spirit team.
Stephens and the Spirit had a rather quick bounce from the OHL playoffs and he was led right into the U18 World Championships in Switzerland. This is where Stephens would see his draft stock quickly rise.
On the national stage, Stephens had the best performance of his career in Zug. Captaining the Canadian team, Stephens was playing consistently game in and game out. He was voted as one of the top 3 players for Team Canada after his 5 goal, 10-point performance.
He was turning the heads of many scouts and also fans. People are seriously considering him as a 1st round pick.
If Stephens played at the same caliber that he did at the U18 Worlds for the Saginaw Spirit, he would be a shoe-in for the 1st round right now. Unfortunately, there is just too much talent already built into those first 30 picks.
What Mitchell Stephens has to do now is hope that his stellar WC performance wasn’t too late for clubs to change their minds about him. What NHL teams want in the 1st round is a prospect who can help their team as soon as possible. Stephens seems to be too much of a risk to take in the first round above a player who could come in and make a difference this upcoming season, if not they next.
It is unclear if Stephens can be a prospect like that. He may take a year or so in the AHL to develop strength a bit more and get used to the slower paced professional level type of game.