The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the AHL have signed Luke Stevens to an AHL contract for the 2020-21 season.
Who Is Luke Stevens?
Drafted: Carolina Hurricanes, 126th overall in 2015
Age: Turned 23 on February 11th
Position: Left Wing
Weight: 207 lbs
2019-20: Yale University of the NCAA (ECAC), 31 games, 7 goals, 5 assists, 25 PIM, -11
You might recognize Luke Stevens from his dad, former Penguins star and two-time Stanley Cup Champion Kevin Stevens. Luke has a similar frame and a similar ability to use his strength to win battles like the senior Stevens. Unfortunately, unlike Kevin, Luke Stevens doesn’t possess the same scoring ability.
Drafted out of high school, Stevens’ biggest strength is his size. At 6’5, he’s grown two inches since being drafted, and still has room to fill in his frame. Offensively, he’s never been that great. Stevens got a career-high 12 points this season, tied his career-high in assists (5), and set a career-high in goals (7). For most of those goals, however, it’s clear that they’re mostly the result of being one of the biggest and oldest players in college hockey. He puts lots of low-quality shots on net, but his success mostly comes from doing the dirty work in front of the net.
Stevens isn’t good enough defensively for me to label him a two-way forward, but, nonetheless, he’s solid. He needs to learn to use his size more consistently.
In his senior year, he spent significant time on the top line, also frequently playing on the second and third lines.
If Stevens doesn’t develop a consistent offensive game, I find it hard to project him as more than a grinder in a lower-level league (AHL or Europe). However, the Penguins organization believes in its ability to help Stevens in his development path.
Luke Stevens’ connection to the Penguins organization is obvious. Kevin Stevens is currently a Special Assignment Scout for the Pittsburgh Penguins, his job is to scout amateur and college players and is based in Boston, two hours away from Yale. The Penguins recently signed another Yale standout, Billy Sweezey, and GM Jim Rutherford notably has an affinity for bigger players.
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In other words, the connections are there.
What to Expect This Season
I’d expect Stevens to spend most of the season with the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL. I would’ve expected the Penguins to give him a two-year deal, but instead, the 23-year-old gets a one-year “show me” deal.
The Penguins will want to see how he adapts to the professional level. Stevens will likely need to prove that he can score in the ECHL before the organization moves forwards. Otherwise, his trajectory remains the same, a grinder at a lower level.
Ultimately, it’s a move that could be a hit for the Penguins organization. If not, the short-term AHL deal provides the organization with the flexibility to just move on. Still, Stevens is a name to watch as he tries climbing up the organization his father starred in.
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Featured Image via Yale Athletics