Chandler Stephenson Is So Damn Underrated
Chandler Stephenson has been the unsung hero for the Golden Knights. There isn’t a second or third place even worthy of consideration. Without Stephenson, Vegas might be in real trouble having helped carry the team through a boatload of injuries. In fact, it might be safe to say that Stephenson is one of the most underrated players in the league.
Stephenson, 27, has been invaluable to the Knights this season. The former third round pick of the Captials has 40 points in 48 games while averaging a shade over 19 minutes of ice time per game. More importantly, Stephenson has provided stability.
Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, and Jack Eichel have all missed more than a fair share of games. Stephenson has been the team’s rock. He leads the Knights in points having five more than top goal scorer Jonathan Marchessault. He also leads the team in shooting percentage (18.1). Stephenson has provided speed and reliability the Knights haven’t had from almost anyone else offensively.
With Stone on the shelf for likely the rest of the 2021-22 NHL regular season, the Knights have had a hole at the right wing spot. The Knights needed answers considering that Eichel was about to become activated off injured reserve.
Pete DeBoer gave Evgenii Dadonov the first crack which predictably lasted ONE GAME after I shit on the idea in a post. DeBoer did the smart thing. He gave those duties to Stephenson despite having him play first line center practically the entire season.
We have a long way to go before we make judgments on Stephenson playing on the top line out of position. However, Stephenson is already off to a hot start and Eichel is going to get significantly better after having such a long layoff.
It’s just hard to imagine where the Knights would be without Stephenson. It’s going to turn out to be one of the most important acquisitions the Knights have made. Vegas sent a 2021 5th round draft pick to Washington to acquire Stephenson. Better yet, they were then smart enough to sign Stephenson to a four-year extension worth $11 million carrying a cap hit of $2.75 through the 2023-2024 season.
Those are the kind of decisions that win you a Stanley Cup. Imagine if Vegas never acquires Stephenson? We might have been stuck watching Brett Howden playing first line minutes until Eichel returned. Imagine how badly missed Nick Suzuki would have become then?
Stephenson has also been an underrated rock star in fantasy. In ESPN scoring, he has averaged a more than respectable 2.3 points per game. Damn good for going undrafted in essentially every fantasy league. That number could even improve. Stephenson is sticking on the first power play unit and now gets to finish the season playing with Patches and Eichel? Oh, boy.
Chandler Stephenson deserves more love. It’s one of the best contracts in the league. We’re also talking about a guy that might have saved what could have been a disastrous season. Are we sure they’re ahead of the Kings in the standings without Stephenson? I’m not.