Wings’ beat writers: Mitchell Stephens likely to replace Luke Glendening as Wings’ 4th-line center

The Detroit Red Wings acquired Tampa Bay Lightning center Mitchell Stephens, a 24-year-old righty, for a 6th-round pick this morning, and the Red Wings’ beat writers are weighing in regarding the pick-up.

Detroit Hockey Now’s Kevin Allen suggests as much

The Detroit Red Wings found their likely replacement for Luke Glendening when they acquired Mitchell Stephens from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. Stephens, 24, started last season as the Lightning’s fourth-line center until he suffered a serous knee injury.

He is a right-shot, which the Red Wings need. He didn’t play during the Lightning’s Stanley Cup run last season, but played with the team during the 2019-20 run. Stephens has appeared in 45 games for the back-to-back Stanley Cup-champion Lightning over the last two seasons, totaling seven points (3-4-7) and 10 penalty minutes.

MLive’s Ansar Khan, in an article summarizing the Wings’ depth signings, offers this regarding Stephens…

Mitchell Stephens, center: Detroit traded its 2022 sixth-round pick to Tampa Bay for Stephens, selected 33rd overall in 2015 under Steve Yzerman’s watch. Stephens (5-11, 190) appeared in seven games for the Lightning (no goals, one assist) this season and 38 games in 2019-20 (three goals, three assists), when he also played in seven playoff games (one goal) on a Stanley Cup-winning club. The 24-year-old right-handed shooter had a goal and seven assists in four games with AHL Syracuse, for whom he has played in parts of six seasons. He played 3½ seasons with the OHL Saginaw Spirit. He has one year remaining on his contract and will be a restricted free agent next summer.

The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan comes out and says it plainly

Stephens was a 2015 second-round draft pick of the Lightning while Yzerman was still GM of that organization.

Stephens played junior hockey in Saginaw and London of the OHL, and in 209 games had 73 goals and 87 assists (160 points) with 92 penalty minutes.

Stephens would appear to be in the hunt for a job on the Wings’ bottom-six forwards, what with the losses of Darren Helm and Luke Glendening to free agency.

Sportsnet agrees

Stephens, 24, struggled to find a role on a deep Lightning squad. He has appeared in just 45 NHL games over the past two seasons, including seven last year. He is signed for one more season at an AAV of $737,500.

On the rebuilding Red Wings, Stephens will slot into a hole created by the departure of depth centre Luke Glendening, who signed with the Dallas Stars in free agency.

And so does WDIV’s David Bartkowiak Jr.:

He played just seven games with the Lightning this past year, spending a large portion of the season injured. He returned at the end of the season with the Crunch.

With the departure of Luke Glendening, Stephens is ostensibly stepping in to fill the role of 4th-line center and penalty killer. Stephens boasts a 53% conversion at the faceoff dot in his career (45 games). It’s a small sample size, but still impressive.

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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.