(Photo Credit: Jim Piece / Northeastern Athletics)
Let’s take a look at an exciting prospect. In the midst of a disappointing season’s wind-down, it’s possible some of us may have undervalued the signing of center-iceman, Nolan Stevens. This could be simply due to the fact that emotions were high around the time he jotted his name down.
Stevens was one of three young college talents to sign two-year entry-level contracts with the Blues on March 25th, 2018. The other two players? Fellow Blues-drafted forward, Austin Poganski, and undrafted defenseman, Mitch Reinke. You can read my write up on Reinke here. Now, time to dive into Nolan’s time at Northeastern University. Let’s try to pinpoint exactly what we have here.
The Sea Isle City, New Jersey native will be 22 years old very soon (July 22nd). Stevens stands 6’3″ and weighs in at 187 lbs. He was selected 125th overall in the 5th round of the 2016 draft by the St. Louis Blues.
Jeff Cox of sbncollegehockey.com wrote 2016 NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Nolan Stevens. I recommend giving this article a read if you’re interested in flashing back. It’s a good account of where Stevens was at when the Blues chose to draft him. I personally think he’s excelled at the NCAA level and will one day make a fine NHLer that hopefully rubs off on his teammates.
“Stevens has a good shot, but a lot of his offensive production came from good, old fashioned grit. He has a knack for being in the right place at the right time, winning net-front battles and scoring garbage goals. He’s good in all 200-feet of the ice. He’s responsible defensively, doesn’t cut corners and pays attention to the finer details of the game. His father John Stevens is the associate head coach of the Los Angeles Kings. He comes from a good hockey family and it shows in his hockey IQ.” – Jeff Cox (sbncollegehockey.com)
Stevens played in 132 total NCAA games with Northeastern University from 2014-15 to 2017-18. Nolan found the net 57 times and stacked up 61 assists for 118 points. His Freshman campaign was his low point, managing 0.33 points per game, but hey, he was just getting his feet wet. Stevens averaged 1.02 points per game his Sophomore season. His Junior year? 1.29 points per game. As a Senior, he averaged 1.10 points per game. Nolan finished with an NCAA career average of approximately 0.89 points per game. When we disregard his first 36 games (forget about his freshman year), his average would be 1.10 points per game. To be clear, in Nolan Stevens’ last 96 NCAA contests, he’s put up 106 points. Pretty impressive for a player projected to be a bottom-six forward if/when playing at the NHL level.
Stats from Northeastern University
- (2014-15) 36GP, 3G, 9A, 12P, 8PIM, (0)
- (2015-16) 41GP, 20G ,22A , 42P, 10PIM, (+13)
- (2016-17) 17GP, 10G, 12A, 22P, 12PIM, (+13)
- (2017-18) 38GP, 24G, 18A, 42P, 50PIM, (+6) Captain*
Something else I’d like to point out is that Stevens logged just 30 penalty minutes in his first 94 games (Freshman, Sophomore, and Junior years). That really jumped out at me. That’s an average of approximately 0.32 penalty minutes per game. On top of that, in those 94 games, Nolan adds up to a (+26) rating. Do you understand why they made him Captain of the Huskies for his last year there? It just made sense!
His second year (2015-16), He led the Huskies in goals with 20 and was 4th on the team in assists. Nolan went to the box, on average, 0.24 minutes per game. Northeastern University won the NCAA (Hockey East) Championship that season. I’ll be sharing his awards with you shortly.
The following season (2016-17), although only playing 17 games, he was very effective in the games that he played. Actually, he still finished 7th on the team in points. Stevens also ranked 4th on the team in game-winning goals with 2. That year, Nolan ranked 4th on the team in points per game and tied for 5th in Power Play goals. He sat in the sin bin approximately 0.70 minutes per contest on average.
How did he perform as Captain in (2017-18)? He finished second on the Huskies in goals scored behind 2018 Hobey Baker Award winner, Adam Gaudette. Stevens ended up 5th on the team in assists, 3rd in points per game, and tied for 2nd in game-winning goals with 4. Nolan also tied for second in Power Play goals with 11. He finished with a (+6) rating. Stevens took a bit more penalties this time around, averaging approximately 1.3 minutes in the box per game. By adding this 4th season into the mix, Nolan Stevens took an average of roughly 0.61 penalty minutes per game in his NCAA career with a combined (+29) rating.
Back in 2013-14, Nolan won Gold in the World Juniors with Team USA (under 18). Two years later, not only did he and his Huskies win the NCAA (Hockey East) Championship, but he was also selected to the NCAA (Hockey East) All-Tournament Team and the Honorable Mention All-Star Team.
In his final season with Northeastern University (2017-18), He was selected as NCAA (Hockey East) Second All-Star Team as well as NCAA (New England) All-Stars.
I visited Ice Zone (The St. Louis Blues Practice Facility) for Prospect Camp on Thursday, June 28th to watch the scrimmage. I must say that Nolan Stevens is one prospect that performed with poise. I was impressed with his responsible style of play. It was the first time I’d had a chance to get a look at him, and one word comes to mind. “Comfortable”.
I look very forward to the next step of Stevens’ career. I can honestly say that I’m under the impression that Nolan will be fantastic at the AHL level. San Antonio Rampage fans should be excited to have him on board and expect great things from him. He’s a great example on the ice. That’s undeniable. He’s one of the more mature prospects in my opinion, and if he can rub off on his teammates, it’s a win.
Best of luck to an adequate, and recently quite consistent hockey player in Nolan Stevens. He might be one of the smartest all around up and coming bottom-six prospects we could ask for. His statistics alone are proof of how hard he works for what he’s got going on right now. I’m happy to see Nolan Stevens taking charge.
If and when this guy becomes a Blue, I’ll have a lot of confidence in him. I don’t expect him to transition to anything close to a point per game player in the NHL, of course, but I do see his overall demeanor being one that fits right in with the note.