If you are just returning with the start of preseason, you can find a clickable menu that includes the previous 16 ‘Back to School’ articles HERE.
After many emails and re-emails, Twitter direct messages and a few phone calls, we have officially completed the first leg of the ‘Back to School’ series. With the article on Luke Stevens today, updates are now available for all 17 of the Hurricanes prospects (including Martin Necas who is looking like maybe he was miscategorized :-)) who are expected to play below the AHL level for the 2017-18 season. Next up will be the ‘graduating class’ of eight players who will move up to the AHL to play for the Charlotte Checkers in 2017-18.
Forward Luke Stevens was selected in the fifth round of the 2015 NHL Draft. He brings good NHL size at 6 feet 5 inches tall and 205 pounds, skill and NHL pedigree with a father who had a successful NHL career. Stevens just completed his freshman season at Yale University. His season was cut short by an injury, but he finished the campaign with two goals and three assists in 17 games.
Interview with Kevin Wickersham from Dobber Prospects
About the Interviewee
Kevin Wickersham (Twitter=@KWCrosscheck) serves as a senior writer and columnist in addition to covering the USHL beat for Dobber Prospects, writes Dobber Hockey’s weekly Wild West column, and will be assuming managing editor duties for Goalie Post this fall. He also contributes prospect analysis and NHL coverage regularly for My NHL Trade Rumors and has launched his own website Wix Hockey that focuses on NHL prospects and will expand to offer advanced goalie metrics during the 2017-18 NHL campaign.
Interview on Luke Stevens
Canes and Coffee: How would you describe Luke Stevens’ 2016-17 freshman season at Yale? What were the highlights?
Kevin Wickersham: With injury limiting him to just 17 games, Stevens basically got his feet wet adjusting to NCAA competition while displaying flashes of the skating and playmaking skill that netted him more than 150 points in high school. In a year without many points (two goals, three assists), Stevens’ scoring highlight was probably a short-range second period goal that briefly gave the Bulldogs a 3-2 lead over Harvard in the opening tilt of the ECAC quarterfinals. His first collegiate goal vs. Clarkson in January I’m sure was a personal highlight as well.
Canes and Coffee: What areas of Luke Stevens’ game saw the greatest gains development-wise during the 2016-17? Briefly describe his starting point and ending point for the season.
Kevin Wickersham: As an incoming freshman without garnering a great deal of playing time, it wasn’t easy to get a baseline on his game right out of the gate, but he did seem to get more comfortable as the season progressed. He started a bit tentative, as most players do but displayed solid on-ice awareness and a competitive nature that became more evident. Such growing pains are natural, especially considering he moved from high school straight to Yale without a year of USHL or juniors development in between. I think after an albeit truncated season of collegiate play including the postseason he’s much closer to asserting a leadership role on offense, especially in taking more chances and surpassing last year’s 32 shots on goal.
Canes and Coffee: Entering the offseason and heading into the 2017-18 season, what areas of Luke Stevens’ game offer the most room for improvement at this early stage of his development?
Kevin Wickersham: While it’s a theme for him, and many prospects, Stevens needs to grow into his size and better utilize it on the ice. He’s a physical, powerful presence already at 6-5, 205 pounds, but with time and practice he could do much more using it to his advantage. I’d like to see greater aggressiveness and snarl, which is sometimes hard to assess in college play, but I sense he has more in him than he showed last year and, channeled effectively, emphasizing it would up his game.
Canes and Coffee: Luke Stevens will have had a strong 2017-18 season in terms of helping Yale win and also developing if…
Kevin Wickersham: …His confidence, comfort and physical stature continue to grow earning him more minutes, a tougher and dangerous presence around the net, and a better shot at slowing opposing ECAC forwards.
Canes and Coffee: What gives Luke Stevens a good chance to defy the odds as a fifth-round draft pick and one day play in the NHL?
Kevin Wickersham: While Carolina’s improving, young forward corps will make it hard to crack the Hurricane lineup in the near future, Stevens has all the rumblings of a prolific power forward waiting to surface. With solid and successful coaching at Yale, Keith Allain and staff should bring out whatever Stevens offers there, priming him for success probably after a four year run in New Haven. As a 23-year-old graduate and four-year ECAC vet in 2020, I think he’ll look appealing to the Hurricanes as a competitive, potential middle-six left wing and go on to earn more experience in the AHL. I could see him getting some limited NHL duty by 2020-21.
Canes and Coffee: Is there anything else noteworthy that is not addressed in the questions above that might be interesting to Carolina Hurricanes fans tracking Luke Stevens from afar?
Kevin Wickersham: He’s a big, skilled and strong skater who is quick and has a strong shot. Stevens is still finding his way in the NCAA but getting more comfortable it seems. As former NHL power forward Kevin Stevens’ son, he certainly has a promising pedigree. Carolina I’m sure hopes he picks up his scoring pace. I bet he will. His nearly two points-per-game average in his final year of preps shows it’s possible. Luke missed some of last year due to injury, but hopefully will take the next step with a healthy campaign and further experience. He’s physical and displays a competitive edge that should grow in his sophomore campaign especially as his somewhat lanky frame fills out.
For past coverage on Luke Stevens including a check in on him during the 2016-17, please visit his Canes and Coffee player page HERE.
Canes and Coffee would like to extend a huge thank you to Kevin Wickersham from Dobber Prospects for generously sharing his insight on Hurricanes prospect Luke Stevens!