Every player on an NHL team plays a role. Some play bigger roles than others.
In the coming weeks, Jill Sorenson, Tarik El-Bashir and JJ Regan will rank the 25 most important players in the Caps’ organization, from least to most important, weighing factors such as past production, future potential and intangibles.
Today’s player: No. 24 Chandler Stephenson
Chandler Stephenson has all the tools to be an NHL player. He is a good skater, has good speed and at 6-0, 204 pounds, he certainly looks the part.
Now he just has to put it all together.
Stephenson, 23, has played in 13 NHL games with zero points to his name, but his performance in the playoffs with the Hershey Bears last season suggests he may be ready for the jump.
While he has the tools, however, what Stephenson does not have is a clear spot in the lineup.
The Caps have two spots on the fourth line up for grabs, but Stephenson is only one player in a very crowded competition that includes players like Nathan Walker, Riley Barber, Devante Smith-Pelly, Anthony Peluso and Travis Boyd.
But in addition to all the tools Stephenson has in his arsenal, there are two other factors that will likely play in his favor. First, he is no longer waiver exempt. In previous years that may have hurt him.This year, however, given that he is largely seen as NHL ready, that could likely mean he stays on the NHL roster from the very start, giving him a leg up on other prospects whom the team can still send to the AHL without fear of losing them to waivers.
The second factor is Stephenson’s position. Though he can play wing, Stephenson is primarily a center. The Caps are stacked down the middle with Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Lars Eller and Jay Beagle. Stephenson will be one of if not the team’s top choice as a replacement should one of those players goes down with an injury. Given the team’s remarkable run with health the past few seasons, chances are their luck will run out sooner rather than later.
Check out the full list of the Caps most important players as it comes out here and check out past player profiles below.