As we skate toward the start of the 2017-18 NHL Regular Season, our CSN Capitals team of Jill Sorenson and Tarik El-Bashir detail and analyze the Capitals roster.
They will take a look at breakout candidates, prospects on the rise, players in need of improvement and a look at the rest of the Metropolitan Division, all leading up to the start of the NHL regular season.
It's time to take a look at which top prospects have the tools to become a full-time NHL player and what they have to do to get the call-up from Hershey.
Our first entry was on enigmatic prospect Jakub Vrana. Next, we previewed Nathan Walker, who is on track to make NHL history this season.
Now it's time to look at Chandler Stephenson.
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YOU CAN WATCH TARIK AND JILL'S FULL BREAKDOWN OF CHANDLER STEPHENSON IN THE VIDEO PLAYER ABOVE.
2017-18 CAPITALS PROSPECT PREVIEW: CHANDLER STEPHENSON
Weight: 190 pounds
Contract: Two-Way. Two-year, $1.3 Million (2017)
AHL Seasons: 3 (172 games)
2016-17 AHL Stats: 72 games, 10 goals, 28 assists
NHL Seasons: 2 (13 games)
2016-17 NHL Stats: 4 games, 3 shots on goal
PREVIEWING 2017-18 BREAKOUT CANDIDATES: Tom Wilson | Brett Connolly | Andre Burakovsky
Tarik El-Bashir's Prospect Preview:
Chandler Stephenson possesses most of the prerequisites.
Hockey sense? Check.
Now, according to Bears Coach Troy Mann, it’s time for the 2012 third rounder to mix in one final element as he attempts to make the jump from the minors to Washington this fall.
“I just think it’s consistency,” Mann said this week in a guest appearance on CSN’s Capitals Faceoff Podcast. “We talk about that with a lot of our young players.”
Mann added: “The positive note on Stephenson is I thought he was excellent for us in the playoffs. He was very good down the stretch, as well. We would not have made the playoffs if it wasn’t for him.”
In 72 games with the Bears last season, Stephenson notched career highs in goals (10) and assists (28). He also chipped in with three goals and two assists in nine playoff games.
In four games with the Caps, the 23-year-old did not record a point. But he also saw very limited ice time in those contests.
Looking ahead to training camp, Stephenson will find himself among a handful of bottom-six forwards looking to break through, joining fellow prospects such as Nathan Walker, Riley Barber, Travis Boyd, Liam O’Brien and others.
It’s going to be an intriguing battle and, obviously, a lot will be determined in training camp and the preseason. In Mann’s estimation, though, it’s only a matter of time before Stephenson is playing for the Caps full-time.
“He could surprise some people,” Mann said. “I really believe he can be a solid NHLer for years to come based on his physical and mental makeup.”
Jill Sorenson's Prospect Analysis:
What He Has: Stephenson has NHL speed and could arguably have been the best skater on the Hershey Bears last season. The center is solid from the faceoff dot and serves as a solid playmaker.
What He Needs to Do: Hershey Bears head coach Troy Mann said if Stephenson could be a little more consistent in his game, that will set him apart from the competition for those forward spots open in Washington. He plays mostly Center for the Bears but could certainly make the switch to wing without an issue.