For the first time in his career, Mark Stone has been nominated for the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL.
Stone, heralded as an analytic dream, was acquired by the Golden Knights on Feb. 25 before the trade deadline. Since coming to Vegas, Stone has been as advertised for the Golden Knights as the team forays into the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Winnipeg native joins fellow first-time nominee Ryan O'Reilly of the St. Louis Blues and four-time winner Patrice Bergeron from the Boston Bruins as the three nominees for the honor. In just 18 regular season games with the Golden Knights, Stone recorded 34 takeaways, blocked 18 shots and notched 11 points (5G, 6A). As a member of the Ottawa Senators, Stone collected 88 takeaways, 53 blocked shots and 62 points (28G, 34A) in 59 appearances.
While his offensive production is what's left on a scoresheet, Stone's defensive tendencies make all the difference on the ice during the course of a game.
"It's just one of those things that, when I was a young guy, I didn't like to get scored on," Stone said. "You always try to do what you can at both ends of the ice."
What Stone has done in the offensive zone has impressed fellow Golden Knights forward William Karlsson.
"He's the whole package," Karlsson said. "He's just as good defensively as he is offensively. He brings a lot to this team and it's a joy to see him on the ice."
On the defensive side of the puck, Stone's prowess makes life easier for his blueliners. Defenseman Brayden McNabb said sharing the ice with Stone makes the entire team better defensively.
"He's a 200-foot player and he's one of the smartest players in the game," McNabb said. "He's not the fastest guy but he's in good position and he makes the little plays that no one sees. He's been an unbelievable addition to the team and his whole line has been great for us."
The NHL Awards will be held in Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Stone said he's excited to have the ceremony in the city because the fans in Vegas deserve it.
"When I found out that I was nominated, that was one of the coolest things about it," Stone said. "I'm proud to call myself a Vegas Golden Knight and it would be pretty cool to win it here. Ever since I've been here, I've absolutely loved it. The fans here are incredible. They're true hockey fans which is impressive for having only been in the league for just two years. That says everything about the people who have embraced the team."