We continue our Capitals annual prospect review and forecast series with Clay Stevenson, goaltender for Dartmouth College. (You can access all of our Capitals Prospect Reports and player analysis on our “Prospects” page in the top menu or right here.)
Stevenson, 23, is a 6’-4” left-handed netminder from Drayton Valley, Alberta. The Capitals inked the undrafted free agent a two-year entry-level deal for $855,000 average annual value on March 28, 2022. Stevenson’s NHL deal starts next season.
Stevenson played three seasons with the Coquitlam Express in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL). In his third and final season in 2019-20, Stevenson finished with a 30-2-2 record and four shutouts, a 1.77 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage. He led the team to the Ron Boileau Memorial Trophy, presented to the BCHL’s regular season champion.
Stevenson was named a BCHL First Team All-Star, was honored as the BCHL’s Top Goaltender after finishing with the BCHL’s top goals-against average and top save percentage and was given the Wally Forslund Trophy, presented to the BCHL’s top goaltending duo.
In 85 games with Coquitlam, Stevenson finished with a 48-29-3 record with six shutouts, a 2.82 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage.
“I think the biggest change that year was my mental maturity,” Stevenson said of his stint with the BCHL. “I was a lot more confident in myself day-to-day and I started to take the games one at a time instead of worrying about the bigger picture.”
Stevenson, 23, posted a record of 6-14-2, with two shutouts, a 2.70 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage in his sophomore season at Dartmouth College of the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC). The 6’4″, 195-pound goaltender posted a save percentage above .900 in all 23 games this season and his .922 save percentage was tied for second in the ECAC. Stevenson was named to the ECAC All-Rookie Team and the ECAC Third All-Star Team. Stevenson did not play for Dartmouth during his freshman season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Capitals signed Stevenson to a two-year entry-level deal for $855,000 average annual value on March 28, 2022. Stevenson’s NHL deal starts next season. Stevenson went undrafted as he was a “late-bloomer”. It wasn’t until his breakout 2019-2020 season with the Coquitlam Express of the British Columbia Hockey League that Stevenson said he began to believe he could make the NHL. As a result, several teams were hoping to sign Stevenson.
“The biggest factor in my decision-making was where I had the most opportunity to develop,” Stevenson said. “I ultimately made the decision to go to Washington because their track record shows that they build within their organization.”
After the Covid-cancelled 2020-21 season, Stevenson remained committed to becoming an elite goaltender. “My conversation with Clay when we first met was, ‘My job is to make you a good college goalie, but my ultimate goal is to make you an elite NHL goalie,’” Dartmouth goaltending coach Jason Tapp said. “That’s what we’re always trying to build towards.”
Despite not having games to play in 2020, Stevenson said that he dedicated himself to maximizing his own development for the following season.
“The [COVID-19] year was a challenge just because of all the rules, we couldn’t work on things like screens and tips, but Clay’s work ethic is at the top of our team,” Tapp said. “He was diligent, never missed goalie ices and we watched video every Monday night for an hour or two.”
Stevenson’s teammate and backup goalie Troy Burkhart ’23 echoed Tapp’s sentiments about his elite mentality.
“His mindset going into every drill seemed to be that he was going to stop every single puck, no matter what,” Burkhart said. “By going 110% he also caused his teammates to improve alongside him.”
Stevenson never lacked for talent, Burkhart said. Standing at 6’4, he has an explosive quickness between the pipes that makes scouts drool.
“He can get from one side of the net to the other in an instant and he is able to anticipate where the puck is going on any pass or shot,” Burkhart said. “He has a special combination of great predictions and great athleticism.”
Before signing with the Capitals, Stevenson met with both the Capitals and New York Rangers, while also drawing interest from the Vancouver Canucks and Seattle Kraken. Stevenson signed an amateur tryout agreement (ATO) to join the Hershey Bears for the end of the season, but did not see any game action.
2021-2022 MONTH-BY-MONTH RECAP AND TREND ANALYSIS
The following is a compilation of our month-by-month prospect reports for Clay Stevenson during the 2021-2022 season. You can find all of our monthly prospect reports on our “Prospects” page in the top menu.
Stevenson, 23, posted a record of 6-14-2, with two shutouts, a 2.70 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage in his sophomore season at Dartmouth College of the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC). The 6’4″, 195-pound goaltender posted a save percentage above .900 in all 23 games this season and his .922 save percentage was tied for second in the ECAC.
The Chilliwack, British Columbia, native was named to the ECAC All-Rookie Team and the ECAC Third All-Star Team. Stevenson did not play for Dartmouth during his freshman season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Congratulations to Clay Stevenson on signing his first professional contract with the @Capitals!
— Dartmouth Men’s Hockey (@Dartmouth_MIH) March 28, 2022
Stevenson, 23, had an excellent second season this year with the Green Wave, posting a .922 save percentage and a 2.70 goals against average on an otherwise underwhelming Dartmouth team.
Stevenson has spent quality time with the Bears, participating in each workout, but he has yet to see any game action. Stevenson’s contract with the Capitals doesn’t begin until this fall
Stevenson’s frame (6’-4”), his relatively late development and excellent play the last two seasons are extremely encouraging. It will be interesting to see how his first year in the organization shakes out. He will likely attend Capitals development camp in early July and participate in Capitals training camp in September.
Stevenson will likely battle Zach Fucale and Hunter Shepard for one of the two regular spots on the Bears roster to begin the season. If he is unsuccessful in securing one of the two spots, it’s likely he begins the season in South Carolina.
By Jon Sorensen