PROSPECT PROFILE: JORDAN MORRISON
PROSPECT PROFILE: JEAN-PHILIPPE PAQUET
Ryan Stone wants to trade wheat for steel.
Stone, a star of the Western Hockey League’s Brandon Wheat Kings, is hoping to reach the NHL with the Pittsburgh Penguins. That is his main goal once he reports Sept. 13 to the Steel City for training camp at Mellon Arena.
“I am definitely trying not to go back to Brandon,” Stone said. “I am going to come here and have a good camp and see where I wind up.”
The Penguins selected Stone, a hard-nosed center, in the second round (32nd overall) of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. After starring for Brandon the past four seasons, the 20-year-old is ready to take the next step.
“I am getting stronger, for sure, in the gym,” he said. “I have been skating for a while and just working on skills and cardio. I just want to be in the best shape I can coming into camp. I am looking forward to it and I just want to do the best that I can.”
Stone seems prepared for elite hockey. He finished second in WHL scoring with 99 points. He tallied a league-best 66 assists and scored 33 goals in addition to 127 penalty minutes.
The 6-1, 199-pound center helped guide the Wheat Kings to the WHL’s Eastern Conference championship. Brandon advanced to the WHL championship series, but fell to the Kelowna Rockets, 4-1.
Nevertheless, Stone finished as the postseason’s second-leading scorer with 27 points. He led all playoff competitors with 23 assists. He added 48 penalty minutes.
Stone, who attended Canada’s 2004 Junior National Team development camp with Penguins phenom Sidney Crosby, knows first-hand the quality of talent in the Penguins’ organization.
“I am definitely excited to be part (of the Penguins’ talented prospect nucleus),” Stone said. “The city is looking up and the team is looking up, so it’s just an exciting time for everyone.”
It’s this electric atmosphere that has Stone wanting to find a permanent place in Pittsburgh.