There's a possibility Ryan Stone was kidnapped by KGB operatives and shall never be heard from again. He's never mentioned by the Edmonton media and even the team website has stopped doing any sort of updates on him. To recap, Stone missed 19 games in October and November after developing cartilage issues in his knee. Those issues required arthroscopic surgery and Stone was scheduled to miss 2-4 weeks. Stone came back six weeks later on December 3rd against Detroit. He played 19 games, the last being January 14th against Pittsburgh and after that he was removed from the lineup on the 16th against the Sharks. On January 17th, Stone went on the injured list with a "sore knee".
Stone talked about his knee injury at the time:
"It was getting sorer and sorer, and after last game I pretty much couldn't put any weight on it. There might be some more damage to my meniscus. I think we're going to try to get an MRI next week, and we'll go from there."
"There was pain and I didn't have the same jump that I had before. Last game it got really bad. If it's just another meniscus thing, then it's another quick surgery and however long to rehab."
And then he vanished. The team wasn't talking about him, the media wasn't talking about him and the only mention of Stone was on the injury list. There was no mention of a second surgery or other, alternatives to surgery, just an entry on the injury list each game.
The latest update came March 6th when Robert Tychkowski of the Edmonton Sun wrote:
If you count winger Ryan Stone, who’s been out since Jan. 14 with a sore knee that’s still giving him trouble, it makes six Oilers who are done for the season.
The injury is still being described as a sore knee, with few details as to what's actually going on with Stone's knee condition.
Stone wasn't a world-beater this season, with only six assists in 27 games, no one was mistaking him for Ales Hemsky. But Stone brought an element to his game that the Oilers lacked - physical play with on-ice awareness. Even though he only appeared in 27 games, Stone is still 9th on the Oilers in hits with 54. He doesn't possess great foot speed, but he's smart enough to read the play and understands where he should be on the ice in order to avoid getting beaten because of speed.
It's a shame Stone played so few games, because in the games in which he appeared, Stone looked like he was going to slot in as a 3rd line winger - something the Oilers desperately needed. His lack of games is also a shame because Stone was doing really well as underlying stats* go, as you can see below.
|GP||Corsi||RCorsi||RCorsi RK||CQC ||CQT ||CD/15||CH RK ||OPct||ZS RK ||EV +/- 60 ||+/- RK
|2009 - Ryan Stone||27||6.40||14.7||2/15||2/12||3/15||.662||1/15||53%||1/15||.44||1/15|
*Stats include all forwards with 27 or more games played.
So Stone was protected - his Zonestart is the easiest on the team and his QualTeam suggests he's getting nice linemates. But his Qualcomp is 2/15, suggesting that he's facing the best opponents Quinn can roll him over the boards for.
His Corsi is excellent - behind, of course Dustin Penner, and his EV +/- 60 is best on the team in those 27 games. His scoring chance differential is also best on the team in his limited action. Seems like Stone might be another underlying superstar in the making.
I was a bit surprised by these numbers, especially the Corsi. I wish we had a couple of seasons of data to find out if he can drive the play. I suggested here that Stone had fouth line potential:
At the very least, Stone's play indicates that he should easily handle 4th line minutes, maybe even outplay third-tough minutes. Stone is making $600,000 this year and is a restricted free agent at the end of the year. A contract in the range of $800,000 per year would give the Oilers a much needed outplayable contract and bring some stability to the bottom six.
I think he's a possibility for the third line if he can stay healthy and anyone that can drive results, against any level of opponent is always a welcome sight in Edmonton.