Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Focus on Prospects: Dustin Stevenson

With rookie camp coming up in under 2 weeks, I wanted to look at some of the prospects that may be invited. I'll do profiles of a couple of guys until rookie camp - if there's someone you want to hear about, let me know!  But for my first choice, let's take a look at defenseman Dustin Stevenson.

photo by bridgetds

Name: Dustin Stevenson
Position: D
Shoots: Left
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 220 lbs
Birthdate: 1989-08-12
Hometown: Gull Lake, Sask.

While one of the Caps prospects not currently playing in the CHL, KHL, or Collegiate, Dustin Stevenson is arguably the star of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL).  The SJHL, for those curious, is a Junior A league, which is considered to be a step below leagues of the CHL (which are Major Junior leagues).

But don't count Stevenson out based on that.  Last season, the La Ronge Ice Wolves (which Stevenson captained) won the Credit Union Cup, making the Ice Wolves SJHL Champions.  At the end of that same year, Stevenson was named the SJHL Player of the Year after notching 11 goals and 36 assists, third among defensemen in the league.  He also became the first SJHL player to ever be signed to a pro contract while still with the SJHL (signed right in the middle of the SJHL Credit Union Cup finals).

Not too shabby for a hulking kid from a town of under 1,000 people.
(To provide perspective, when I was a senior in high school, my high school's student population was about 2,500.)

However, SJHL players age out once they are over 20, and with Stevenson just turning 21 this month, he must move on from his team.  Before his signing, he had a hockey scholarship to attend St. Lawrence University, which has produced Hershey Bear Zach Miskovic as well as a handful of current NHL players and coaches.  However, in signing a pro contract, Stevenson had to forgo his turn at a college education and NCAA play.  Though it's not like he's terribly upset that the Capitals signed him.
"For sure, it's a dream come true. Ever since I was a young guy, my dream was to sign with an NHL team. I still haven't wrapped my head around it completely but it's definitely a dream come true."
Many reports say that Stevenson has a Chris Pronger style of play, but he's no goon.  With the size and strength perfect for a defensive defenseman, the speed of a power forward, and the work ethic of a seasoned captain, Stevenson is a coach's dream.  His coach in La Ronge, Bob Beatty, was delighted but not surprised by the signing:
"There's so much potential there.  He's such a good character kid. We know he's going to put in the effort to get better and obviously Washington feels the same way."
Stevenson is also on Bruce Boudreau's radar after an impressive development camp showing.  Stevenson was one of the players that Boudreau singled out in his "all-camp team."  Since Stevenson will not be able to return to the SJHL and will not be attending St. Lawrence due to the fact that he's signed a pro contract, I'd expect him to join the South Carolina Stingrays next season.  A little more pro experience is needed for this self-proclaimed "late bloomer," but he's well on his way to becoming a great addition to an NHL blue line.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I actually played a bit against Dusty when I was in minor hockey. He really is a late bloomer. He never stood out really in minor hockey. Expect him to just keep getting better.. he really is a late bloomer. He'll be in a Caps jersey one day.