Monday, February 25, 2019

Mark Stone Autographed Card

How do you feel happy, sad, elated, relieved and disappointed in something that was so obviously going to happen, all at the same time?

Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion completed the tearing down of the team he had helped assemble into a Conference Finalist not even two years ago by sending its top scorer - and most legitimate choice for next captain - Mark Stone to the Vegas Golden Knights for elite defensive prospect Erik Brannstrom, forward Oscar Lindberg and the Dallas Stars’ second-round pick in the 2020 draft.

Where to begin?

I like the Sens. They're just a short drive away, tickets to their games are more affordable than going to see my hometown Montréal Canadiens, and their players are extremely fan-friendly; at least one Senator sends me stuff in any given NHL season either to add to my Sens Numbers Project or just because they know I like how they play and respect who they are as people.

Stone is one of the smartest players in the world, a first-line winger who can play against the opposing team's best line and stifle them, take away the puck all night and score every other game. He was the Sens' second-best winger of all time, behind Daniel Alfredsson and was barely 26 years old.

I wanted Stone in Ottawa. I wanted him to wear the "C". I wanted to cheer him on. I think he'd be a great player to build around.

Lindberg will likely not be re-signed, but Brannstrom will be a terrific defenseman. Second-rounders usually have a 20% shot at making the NHL, and a 10% shot at being impact players (top-six forwards, good goalies, top-four defensemen). But that haul was fine for Stone as a rental; the fact that he immediately agreed to an eight-year deal worth $76M makes it harder to swallow, as the Sens should've at least gotten a first-rounder out of the deal, perhaps even two.

On the other hand, I love the Golden Knights; they are probably my favourite team at the moment. Seeing as their top line is etched in stone, bringing Stone to their second line to play with Paul Stastny essentially removes Max Pacioretty from relevance there (which I don't mind). Or it turns him into the elite player he should've always been but was never going to become in Montréal because media and fan pressure aren't his bag of tea (which is a plus for the G-Knights).

With this addition, Vegas becomes one of the serious Cup contenders out West with the Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets.

With this subtraction, the Sens' top six scorers from last year (Stone, Matt Duchene, Erik Karlsson, Mike Hoffman, Derick Brassard and Ryan Dzingel) have now left the team - four of whom because they refused to sign extensions. And pretty much the entire middle of the line-up as well: Tom Pyatt, Dion Phaneuf, Alexandre Burrows, Nate Thompson, Kyle Turris, Johnny Oduya, and Marian Gaborik.

It's kind of impressive, when you think about it, although head coach Guy Boucher must be pretty pissed off.

Here is a card Stone signed for me earlier this year (luckily, I have more yet to feature):
That's card #198 from Upper Deck's 2017-18 O-Pee-Chee set (a retro variant). It shows him wearing the Sens' white (away) uniform.

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