2015 NHL Draft Profile #58: Mitchell Stephens

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TopShelfProspectsThe Spirit’s first round pick in the 2013 OHL Draft, Mitchell Stephens has been one of the best players on a rebuilding Saginaw team. Overall he had a busy, and successful season, beginning last summer when he put up six points in five games and won a gold medal playing for Team Canada in the Ivan Hlinka tournament. He would put up 22 goals and 48 points in 62 games, helping Saginaw to grab a playoff spot.  After the Spirit were eliminated, Stephens stared at the IIHF Under 18 World Championships and scored five goals and ten points in seven games in helping Canada to a bronze medal and being named a top three player on the squad by Team Canada’s coaching staff. Stephens comes from an athletic family as his uncle was an ECHL player, and his father played CIAU (now CIS) soccer with St. Mary’s University.

Mitchell Stephens

Center — shoots Right
Born Feb 5 1997 — Peterborough, ONT
Height 6.00 — Weight 188 [183 cm/85 kg]

Mitchell Stephens is among the fastest players in this draft class.  He wins a ton of races whether they be short ones to loose pucks, or being first on the puck on a longer forecheck due to a great first step, tremendous acceleration and great top end speed. He can really fly out there, and this also makes him deadly off the rush. If defenders arent careful he will beat them to the outside and cut to the net. As defenceman have to back off him to protect against that speed, he can use them as a screen, and get off a strong shot. Stephens also has very good agility and edge work which allows him to get by defenders both with and without the puck.  He has a powerful lower body which gives him good balance and makes him hard to knock off the puck.  He can fight through checks, and win board battles in the offensive and defensive zone.

Mitchell Stephens has an excellent wrist shot and release, which he uses to great effect off the rush.  He also has a very good one-timer, and works to get open to get it off.  Stephens stickhandling is good and he can control the play both in the cycle game and making plays on the rush. Stephens is not afraid to crash the net, whether it be in trying to score on his own play in close, or looking for a screen, rebound or tip-in.  He goes to the net extremely hard and has been known to take a goalie interference penalty or tow. If he wants to be a centre at the next level, Stephens will need to improve on his playmaking skills.  He can have a tendency to hold onto the puck a bit too long, missing opportunities to put the puck through a passing lane to a teammate.  He can also develop a sort of tunnel vision, where he gets so focused on creating his own scoring opportunity, he takes a bad shot rather than dishing the puck. If he can learn to fix these issues, he could be a dynamic offensive force.  If not, he may have to become a winger to find a place in the top six.

Mitchell Stephens has developed a strong two-way game. He works to support the defence down low and contain the cycle game. He is always digging along the boards and playing a gritty game in all three zones. Stephens uses his speed and quickness to cause turnovers and quickly transition to the offensive game.

Stephens has some things to work on but could be a second line centre with big defensive responsibilities if he can continue to develop his game, and improve his playmaking skills.  Even without the improved playmaking, he could still be a second line winger, or a third line centre at the next level.  Stephens game is reminiscent of the game that Mike Richards used to play for the Flyers and Kings, before his career went downhill.  This isn’t a talent comparison but merely one based on style.

Below are some videos of Mitchell Stephens in action.

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