Growing up in Port McNeil, B.C.,
defenseman Clayton Stoner steadily worked his way through the VIJHL and landed in the WHL with the Tri-City Americans for the 2002-03 season. From there, Stoner has continued to grow and develop into a well-rounded
defenseman, while continuing to be recognized for his achievement. As the 2003-04 closed for the Amerks, Stoner took a relatively young and fresh proven career to the NHLs doorstep.
The Minnesota Wild took him in the third round, 79th overall, during the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.
This season, Stoner has already turned in his highest point total in the WHL to date and has also earned league player of the week honors from October 24th-30th. He continues to be one of the key factors behind
Tri-City’s recent surge towards the playoffs.
Hockeys Future had a chance to catch up with Stoner this week after a game against the Seattle Thunderbirds. He
talked about his young career, entering the Wilds system as a prospect and playing in the
HF: Can you talk about your earlier days playing hockey?
CS: I grew up in a small town, so it wasnt triple A hockey. I grew up playing double A hockey and I spent a lot of time traveling because I grew up in a remote area on the Vancouver Islands.
HF: Growing up, who did you idolize and try to fashion your game around?
I have always loved Scott Stevens because I always try to play physical like him. Hes a really tough
guy and solid defensemen.
HF: This summer you were drafted by the Wild. There are a lot of expectations associated with hockey in state of Minnesota. What do you think it is going to take to get to that level and be a solid contributor every night?
I definitely know I have to work on a couple things like my skating. They seem to love guys that really work hard every night and that is something I can do. If I can get my skating going, I think Ill be headed in the right direction.
HF: How active has the Wild been in your development?
They have been really good. Barry MacKenzie is the Director of Player Personnel and he has been great. I can call him when I want, which is helpful because he is good with the Q&A stuff. He is always there to talk with me and it helps.
HF: Have you had a chance to work with the Wild to get a feel for their expectations?
This summer I went up to Breezy Point, which is in the northern part of Minnesota. I spent a couple of weeks with them. They also suggested that I work on my skating of course. They want me do to the best I can and continue to learn and develop.
HF: This year you’re currently second in scoring for the Amerks. What has been the difference?
I have been logging a lot of ice time. I am getting time on the first power play unit, which helps. Other then that, I guess the bounces just continue to go my way. I have consistently been adding assists and getting a couple of goals here and there.
HF: What is one aspect of your game that people may not be aware of but you take a lot of pride in?
I take a tremendous amount of pride in my own end. I take a lot of pride in my plus/minus which I led the team in last season and Im doing it again this year. There are also the small things like boxing out in front of the net, help clearing out rebounds and being tough in the corners.
HF: Does it help that Coach Nachbaur stresses a lot of activity from the point?
Yeah, for sure. We have had times where we have had trouble generating offense at times, so it helps when we can help out and get pucks on net
HF: The team got off to a slow start early on. What is it going to take to make that last playoff spot now that your closing in on Spokane?
It is going to take 22 guys coming to rink every night and showing up when game time comes around and competing hard. We have our talented players and a lot of veteran leadership. So, if we show up every night, we can win our games.
HF: How important is it having a quality goaltender in (2005 eligible) Carey Price?
Price is great. Hes a young tender and he works very hard. Hes shown up every night and Im loving the guy.
HF: How has it been playing with your defensive partner, Shawn Belle (STL)?
I have been playing with him for a couple of years now and hes another great player. He likes to
lug the puck and I like to stay at home. The balance is there and it works out pretty great. We have really learned to play each other
HF: Who has been the heart and soul of the Americans this year?
I cant really say just one guy because everyone is very vital to our team and they all bring something to the table. Belle has been big as well as Price. Even Logan
(Stephenson) is good so it adds to the strength of our defense.
HF: Who would you say has been the most underrated player this year for you guys?
It is hard to say, but we got a veteran in Andy Thompson. Hes been playing in the league for five years now and I think people really under estimate his ability. Hes really smart with the puck and gets things done. As of late, he has been burying the puck.
HF: Who do you love shutting down in the league?
I like to shut down guys I have played with or know personally. Adam Corchaine was also drafted by the Minnesota Wild and he is a pretty deadly sniper. Definitely someone like him or like [Gilbert]
Brule up in Vancouver because Im lining up against the other teams top lines.
HF: What do you feel has been your biggest accomplishment or most cherished moment in your young hockey career?
I have played on a lot of great teams but I havent won any championships. We made a great run last year and lost in the playoffs in six games Kelowna, who ended up winning the Memorial Cup. Last year, I was awarded best
defenseman on the team and I was named a playoff MVP. I would say that was a great moment.
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