Saginaw Spirit GM Dave Drinkill announced this afternoon that the team has traded its captain Mitchell Stephens to the defending Memorial Cup Champion London Knights' in exchange for multiple high future draft picks (4 second round picks, and 3 third round picks) over the next five years.
“We want to thank Mitchell for his commitment to the Saginaw Spirit and Great Lakes Bay region on and off the ice in his three and a half seasons with the hockey club,” Drinkill said in an email press release today. “On behalf of the organization, we wish Mitchell the best of luck with the London Knights.”
Stephens, a second round pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning, 33 overall, in the 2015 NHL draft, came to the Spirit as the organizations top pick (8th overall) in the 2013 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection draft.
He had a 21-point (9-goals, 12-assists) rookie campaign in the 2013-14 OHL season. He would also get his first taste of playing for Team Canada that season wearing the red and black maple leaf at the 2013-14 U-17 World Hockey Challenge in Victoriaville/Drummondville, QC where he recorded 2-assists in five games.
He continued to compete in a multitude of international games for his home country, including a recent silver medal at the 2017 IIHF U-20 WJC in Montreal where he finished the tournament with 5-points (2-goals, 3-assists). It was his second straight IIHF U-20 WJC for the Canadian national team. He also helped Canada win gold at the 2014-15 Ivan Hlinka U-18 WJC in the Czech Republic where he had 10-points (5-goals and 5-assists) as team captain.
The 6-foot, 200-pound native of Peterborough, ON will leave Saginaw at No. 15 on the all time Spirit scoring list with 135 career points (62-goals and 73-assists) through 180 OHL games; which includes 28-points (11-goals, 17-assists) through 22-games this season.
Stephens joins an already storied London program that won the 2016 Memorial Cup and is currently ranked No. 2 in the entire Canadian Hockey League behind the Regina Pat's (WHL). With the addition of Stephens, as well as Dante Salituro (from the Ottawa 67's) and defenseman Mitchell Vande Sompel (from the Oshawa Generals) who the Knights' also acquired in other trades, they will be looking to repeat with another Cup in Windsor this year.
Spirit picks from London:
2018 2nd round pick (Ottawa)
2018 2nd round pick (Kingston)
2019 2nd round pick (Owen Sound)
2020 2nd round pick (Sudbury)
2017 3rd round pick (London)
2019 3rd round pick (London)
2021 3rd round pick (London)*conditional