Hockey’s Future Prospect of the Month, November 2011

By Glen Erickson
Photo: Ottawa prospect Mark Stone (right) is consoled by his older brother Michael Stone (left), a prospect for the Phoenix Coyotes. (Photo courtesy of Aaron Bell/HF)

Mark Stone burst out of the gate offensively in Brandon this season after returning from Senators’ camp. A sixth round draft pick, Stone is now a veteran power forward who began to attract attention across the WHL with his offensive prowess during the second half of last season.

During this past November, he supplanted Emerson Etem (ANA) of the Medicine Hat Tigers atop the WHL scoring derby. On two occasions this season, Stone has been named the WHL Player of the Week. Stone has scored 11 power play goals and added a pair of shorthanded markers. Five of his tallies have been game winners. The 19-year-old native of Winnipeg, Manitoba was a beast during November with 14 goals and 15 assists in 14 games. On the season, Stone has compiled 65 points in 33 games.

The 6’3, 195-pounder played in one of the Subway Super Series games against Russia, skating with Wheaties teammate Michael Ferland (CGY) and Mark McNeill (CHI) of the Prince Albert Raiders to produce perhaps Team WHL’s most effective forward line. The trio earned invitations to Team Canada’s Selection Camp for the upcoming WJC, although McNeill and Ferland were among the first group of players to be released.

His brother Mike Stone is currently playing for the Portland Pirates of the AHL. At the 2009 Memorial Cup in Brandon, the brothers squared off as Mark toiled with the host Wheat Kings and Mike was a key veteran with the WHL champions, the Calgary Hitmen.

Honorable Mentions

Jaden Schwartz (STL)
Colorado College Tigers – NCAA

Selected in the first round, 14th overall, by the St. Louis Blues at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Schwartz has been a consistent producer this season with the Colorado College Tigers. Through mid-December, he has score five goals and 13 assists in 13 games, including stretch through November where he scored twice and collected nine assists in seven games. He has scored at least one point in every game this season. Schwartz was a key offensive player with Team Canada at the 2011 WJC before suffering a tournament-ending ankle injury. He has been invited to Team Canada’s Selection Camp for the 2012 WJC, one of only four players that might return from last year’s entry. The native of Wilcox, Saskatchewan, home of Notre Dame College, Schwartz will celebrate his 20th birthday next June.

Nick Bjugstad (FLA)
University of Minnesota Gophers – NCAA

Another exciting forward among US college prospects is Blaine, Minnesota native Nick Bjugstad. At 6’4 and 205 pounds, he already possesses NHL size. The 19-year-old was selected in the first round, 19th overall, by the Panthers at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. He is attending the Selection Camp for USA Hockey’s entry at the 2012 WJC, a tournament where the emphasis in recent years has generally been on overall team speed. Through 20 games this season in his sophomore season, he has scored 16 goals and 11 assists, already surpassing his freshman totals of 20 points in 29 games.

Brandon Pirri
Rockford Icehogs – American Hockey League

Selected in the second round, 59th overall, by the Chicago Blackhawks at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Pirri has amassed 10 goals and 14 assists in 25 games so far this season. During November, he compiled 14 points in 10 games. Pirri is from Toronto, Ontario, and a graduate of the Canadian Junior A Hockey League. He spent one season in the NCAA with R.P.I. before moving on to professional hockey, The 20-year-old checks in at 6’ and 180 pounds.