Vegas Golden Knights centre Chandler Stephenson will not play Game 2 of their Stanley Cup Semi-Final series against the Montreal Canadiens. At the time of writing, there is no word on the reason for his absence.
Chandler Stephenson is not taking warmup for LV
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) June 17, 2021
Chandler Stephenson Won’t Play Game 2
Stephenson centres a line between captain Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty and has played 18:43 minutes a night in the playoffs, top in ice-time among centres on the team. In 14 games in the playoffs, Stephenson has no goals and six assists for six points and a 50.3 Corsi For percentage. During the regular season, Stephenson scored 14 goals, 21 assists for 35 points in 51 games, for sixth on the team in scoring.
Stephenson is in his fifth full season in the NHL. The Washington Capitals drafted Stephenson 77th overall in the 2012 draft. He played three full seasons in Washington and won a Stanley Cup in 2018, coincidentally against the Golden Knights. The Capitals traded Stephenson to Vegas in December of 2019. He has broken his career-high in points for two consecutive seasons. In Washington, his career-high in points was 18. During the 2019-20 season, he scored 26 points, and this year he scored 35.
Nicolas Roy is replacing Stephenson in between Stone and Pacioretty. This is the 24-year-old Roy’s first full NHL season. In 50 games played, he scored six goals, nine assists for 15 points. The Carolina Hurricanes drafted Roy 96th overall in the 2015 NHL draft. During the 2019 offseason, the Hurricanes traded Roy and a conditional fifth-round pick to the Golden Knights for Erik Haula. In 2013 the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles selected Roy as the first pick in the QMJHL draft. However, Roy was traded to the Chicoutimi Saugeens after refusing to play for Cape Breton.
What This Means for the Golden Knights
Losing Chandler Stephenson is a tough blow for Vegas as he is their number one centre. This is the third straight series where Montreal hasn’t played the opposing team’s top centre. In Game 2 John Tavares was hurt for the Toronto Maple Leafs and in Game 1 and Mark Scheifele was suspended in round two for the Winnipeg Jets. Stephenson is a defensive specialist who frees Stone and Pacioretty to take risks offensively. Roy can do the same thing. He is a big 6′-4″ centre who is excellent on face-offs and defensively responsible. As long as he doesn’t make mistakes, that line should be fine. Stone and Pacioretty are talented enough offensively to carry the load. Roy’s 15 points this year show he does have offensive skill as well.